Small change, by Jackie Biggs

When you give a beggar a coin,
a pound dropped into
a ragged cardboard coffee cup,
do you feel good?

When the guy looks at you,
nods unkempt gratefulness
for your little gift,
your small change,
does it make you feel better?

When you sit with your
fat £3 a go Americano
and carrot cake on a china plate
do you wonder how he came to be
a beggar on the ground
outside Embankment station?

See his tent, there,
just around the corner under the bridge.
You think, at least he has a tent,
it looks sound.
He’s better off than those
who lie on cardboard sheets
in parks and shabby doorways.

And as you eat salmon and avocado
in a restaurant by the theatre
before going to see a drama on the stage
do you wonder how
he’ll spend your pound?
Tea, coffee, cider?

You give small change,
does it make you feel better?
And there’s another,
wrapped in a wornout blanket
on the bridge, cup in hand.
You give another £1.

And as you tuck into dessert,
your favourite strawberry tart,
you think of
a woman on the bridge
holding out her empty palm
no cup
skin brown with streetlife.
You put two fifties into her hand.

And you pay £15 to see
an exhibition of photos
by Don McCullin of 50 years
of war and poverty around the world
where you see pictures of
homeless men in 1970s England
asleep, standing up, capped heads lolling,
because there was nowhere to lie down.

And here’s another today,
along the side of Southbank centre,
in a doorway.
You drop the rest of your silver coins
on his sleeping bag,
before you go into the warm concert hall.

Small change.

 

 

 

 

(Jackie Biggs has had poetry published in many magazines and anthologies, both in print and online. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her first poetry collection, The Spaces in Between, was published in September 2015 by Pinewood Press (Swansea). ). Her second collection, Breakfast in Bed, will be published by Indigo Dreams in Autumn 2019. She reads her work regularly at spoken word events all over west Wales, where she lives, and is a member of the Rockhoppers Coast to Coast Poets performance group. Blog:  http://jackie-news.blogspot.co.uk  Twitter: @JackieNews )

How can we tell them that they are loved? by Jackie Biggs

dust veils their faces

but their eyes stare out from our screens

 

dried blood streaks soft cheeks

shellshock programmes their stillness

 

their tears cannot run

yet they still fill their broken hearts

 

there is no more crying

in hell in their frozen world.

 

But let us show them, show them all,

that we still have tears.

..

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/aleppo-siege-syria-evacuation-civilians-children-footage-stopped-crying-a7481131.html

Child of our Time by Jackie Biggs

(for Omran Daqneesh,

and all the other children in Aleppo)

 

He’s the kid who

wiped his bloody hand

on the seat,

on that orange cover.

 

Maybe it won’t show much,

the blood on his hands –

and on ours,

on that orange.

 

He has lived all his life

in a war zone,

it is all he knows.

 

The doctor says,

          we live in a new holocaust,

          in the 21st century.

 

          Every day our hearts are broken,

           but we must do what we can.

 

This boy was ‘lucky’, he says.

He is still alive.

..

 

Jackie Biggs is a freelance writer, editor and poet. Her first collection of poetry, The Spaces in Between was published in September 2015 by Pinewood Press. Some of her poetry (and other work) appears on her blog: http://jackie-news.blogspot.co.uk

Contact:  jackienews@hotmail.co.uk

The day after that man killed Jo Cox by Jackie Biggs

I ate strawberries

for breakfast,

because they were fat

and red

and ready with the sweetness of joy.

 

I walked to the top of the hill

and saw the sea, grey and cold,

but breathing, below,

all the while

on its incoming tide over endless sands,

rolling always and forever.

 

I sat on a seat

in the sun

and emptied my mind,

watched the waves —

sheets of steel

rolling on.

 

I listened to Bach played on guitar,

massive concertos

pitching

in six stunning strings.

 

I spoke to a young woman,

who I had known when she was a girl,

and we talked about her glorious baby,

due soon,

on some happy day.

 

I bought a new novel,

to read later …

That anticipation

that it is there,

the words waiting,

for me

when I am ready,

sometime,

this summer.

 

I picked herbs from the garden –

mint and parsley,

and watched the cat rolling

in the catnip,

quite off her face.

 

I saw the swallows

scything over the fat meadow,

gathering feed

for their young;

 

and I thought of life,

this life,

how we

have to keep breathing,

over our own endless sands.

 

I sent you a text,

on a pretext,

just to make sure

that you were there,

still there.

 

And I read a poem

on Facebook,

by a friend who said,

we have to do this,

because

however bad the world is

there is love

and light

and you can’t take that away

from us.

 

And I wrote new poetry,

about love,

because that is

all there is.

 

Love, love, love …

Dead ends by Jackie Biggs

Kids run around small tents

catching sunshine

among fluttering canvas

 

parents watch

 

their anxious knots

gathering tighter

 

beneath a belt

of razor wire

 

coiled and cold

 

one metal gate

closed

 

locked in

locked out

 

shut up

 

stuck

in a cul de sac

where mulberry trees

 

make frames for

men to hang

their final protest

 

and the man with the cold heart

in the black suit

says: ‘Do not come here’.

 

While we struggle

 

only

 

to find words to say

this same story

again

in some different way.

 

Jackie Biggs.
poetry blog: http://jackie-news.blogspot.co.uk

Words in Blood by Jackie Biggs

Sketched with shrapnel, the fragments of his face

are cut with orange and red.

Secrets seep out through skin to tell the truth of this world,

where old conflicts have led.

All life has exploded in the city of light

and he must find a way to get the feeling out,

but before words are found, before he can write,

impressions drift, as smoke from old chimney stacks

beside miles of twisted railway tracks.

Searching for ways to tell the horror of it all,

he is lost among concrete corridors,

where unformed words founder and stall.

His expressions slip, adrift in a dreadful discontent,

and drip with his blood down cracks  in the pavement.

(Paris, November 13th, 2015)

Jackie Biggs is a freelance writer, editor and poet. She has had work published on websites and in magazines and anthologies. Her first collection of poetry, The Spaces in Between was published in September 2015 by Pinewood Press. Some of her poetry (and other work) appears on her blog: http://jackie-news.blogspot.co.uk

The Lifeguard by Jackie Biggs

A mother is gasping, crying,
choking salt water
at the end of her world.

A father fights the heaving sea,
small children grasp his arms
others cling to his legs,

his kicking limbs their only chance.
Hundreds of screams swell in waves
as three hundred people cling to a drowning hope.

Who do you choose?
Who do you save?
Who do you watch die?

The mother? The father?
Some of the little ones? A baby?
You decide, in the silence of your mind.

Lines of children on the shore
wait to be hung upside down,
to let the water out of tiny lungs.

The border agency boat stands off,
where the crew guard drowned children in the hold,
so many dead fish.

Day after day, boat after boat,
they still come
over the roughening seas

while Europe stands by
and watches.
And waits for the deluge to end.

And that lifeguard with his open arms,
and a deafening silence in his heart,
he says he is ashamed.

lifeguard2 Oscar

..

Biog
Jackie Biggs is a freelance writer, editor and poet, who lives in west Wales. She has had work published on websites and in magazines and anthologies. Her first collection of poetry, The Spaces in Between was published in September 2015 by Pinewood Press. Some of her poetry (and other work) appears on her blog: http://jackie-news.blogspot.co.uk
contact:  jackienews@hotmail.co.uk
Linked references for poem, The Lifeguard:
Source: El Mundo (in Spanish): http://bit.ly/1PUmZHs
Background information: The Local (ES): http://bit.ly/1jsxNjS
Proactiva Open Arms facebook page: Proactiva Open Arms

Waves by Jackie Biggs

to fall

sink

drift

down

..

to escape what is

above

to know what is lost

is untouchable

..

to sense

ghosts swimming

in a veiled

shadow of fears

..

to breathe

water

taste salt

choke

..

to know darkness

to stifle

in a sea of tears –

to drown

Jackie Biggs is a freelance writer, editor and poet. She has had work published on websites and in magazines and anthologies. Her first collection of poetry, The Spaces in Between will be published in autumn 2015 by Pinewood Press. Some of her poetry (and other work) appears on her blog: http://jackie-news.blogspot.co.uk
contact:  jackienews@hotmail.co.uk

Paint them in gold by Jackie Biggs

If we could worship the homeless people,
because they are strong,
because they have learned to live without walls,
because they have no boundaries to contain them,
and can exist on almost nothing,
because they can carry life in a bag,
with few possessions, because they are free,
if we worshipped them, how would the world be?

Their swept up lives exist in doorways
spiked with danger and zero tolerance,
relics in the dust and debris of our days.
If we could venerate them, revere them,
cover them in gold,
break out of the mantra of meanness,
if we were truly bold,
how would the world be?

If we worshipped the homeless people,
if we painted their portraits and decorated their images with jewels,
as the old icons were adorned,
and placed them so we could look upon them with reverence,
if we exalted them and made them saints,
if we gave them beautiful blankets to keep them warm,
if we lauded all the roaming people,
how would the world be?

Man with a plaid blanket

Written after seeing ‘Man with a plaid blanket’,

by Thomas Ganter.

(first prize BP Portrait Awards 2014)

Jackie Biggs is a freelance writer, editor and poet. She has had work published on websites and in a number of magazines and anthologies. Her first collection of poetry, The Spaces in Between will be published in autumn 2015 by Pinewood Press. Some of her poetry (and other work) appears on her blog: http://jackie-news.blogspot.co.uk
 
contact:  jackienews@hotmail.co.uk

Autism by Jackie Biggs

or: how the psychologist ‘interviewed’
the mother of an autistic teenager,
who after years of trying
finally got an appointment with
Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services
(or CAMSH – Can’t Actually Manage to be Supportive of Humans)

“Did N have problems when he was younger?
Ah, I see,
he had a few issues at nursery –
well, that’s just children for you isn’t it.
When did he attend referrals?
Oh come on, do think now,
can’t you be more specific?
How often and where?
You must know these things,
let’s get it all down straight shall we?
I need to know all the facts.
You seem very muddled about this,
do you have problems with your memory?
It may have been ten years ago Mrs M,
but most people would certainly remember those details.
It’ll be your age, of course.
No, your memory isn’t good compared to others.
I expect it’s your hormones,
you’ll be going through the change by now.
That’ll be all for today,
time’s up.
Take this medicine for him
and come back next week, same time.
Can you remember that?”

Jackie Biggs has had poetry published on websites and in magazines and anthologies, including The Lampeter Review, Innovate arts magazine, Poetry24, I am not a silent poet, threedropsfromacauldron, Poetry and Paint and the Haiku Journal . She has been Honno’s  Poet of the Month. She performs at spoken word events all over west Wales, where she lives.  Her first collection, The Spaces in Between, will be published in September by Pinewood Press. Some of her work appears on her blog: http://jackie-news.blogspot.co.uk

What will the neighbours say by Jackie Biggs

The meals on wheels van arrives at ten past noon.
Bang, bang, bang on the door.

She can’t hear you, she’s deaf,
she’ll be in the back. 

He goes through the side gate,
comes back in a few moments, drives off.

She’ll be out in a minute. 

At twenty past noon she appears,
plastic plate of hot charity in hand.

Here she comes. 

She crosses the road,
leans over the fence and pats an old dog,
drops the container on the grass.

Every day she feeds that old thing,
it’s the only time she goes out.

She picks up the empty tray,
pats the dog’s head,
crosses back over the road
and disappears through the gate.

Silly old biddy.

Next day,
the meals on wheels man arrives at ten past noon,
bang, bang, bang on the door.

She can’t hear you, she’s deaf,
she’ll be in the back.

He goes through the gate,
two seconds later he runs
to the van, grabs his phone,
goes back through the gate.
At twenty past noon, an ambulance arrives.

That’ll give them something to talk about.

Rough Night by Jackie Biggs

The girl’s cry carries
through the thin wall.

As he turns over in the next room
the cheap hotel bed creaks.

Her calls are clear in the night’s quiet.

            Don’t. No, please. No, no, no.

A bang, a thud.
He turns over again, sleeps,

and wakes to hear whimpers,

Please, leave me alone.

He turns again, kicks the wall, sleeps.
In the morning, there is no sound.