What we want, what we get

Giving the prompt a go for dverse.

The image is one I borrowed a while ago from Paul Militaru. Thank you, Paul, I’m giving it another outing.

What we want, what we get

We can’t all live in fast city sprawl
where people sleep on cardboard
outside shops that guard their doors
because security theft and the poor stink

and we can’t all walk the midnight streets
the midnight that lasts all night till dawn
in the squalor of drugs and sharp-eyed thugs
and all the dead-eyed do for drugs

and we don’t all like the lights
that never blink or the stink of drink
from every open door, or the piss
that hits you every corner next to every bar

we don’t all want to live where
old ones daren’t go out when sun has set
and young ones can’t go home at all
among stray cats and dogs that cringe
behind the bins, the misery of it all.

Some of us live low in the slow lane
where people take their poverty indoors
the bars close early and streets are dead
where there are no doctors so don’t get sick
and all the shops are boarded up
and there are no lights at night.

But there are no lights at night
and we can see the stars.


Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

49 thoughts on “What we want, what we get”

  1. Oh my heart this is so evocative, so palpable- you paint a vivid picture here with “the midnight that lasts all night in the squalor of drugs” and oh “we don’t all want to live where old ones daren’t go out after dusk,” yes.. that is the gist of it.. here’s hoping there’s a safer environment for all in the future. Thank you so much for writing to the prompt ❤❤

  2. Oh, this is FANTASTIC WORK, has a real Ferlinghetti feel to it, Jane. Lawrence and Allen were the reasons I started writing. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you, Ron! I’m glad you like it.
      It’s late when I get the prompt and not the best time to start writing from cold, so I had another look at this one this morning and revised it. If you have time, have a look. I think it’s better, has more of a rhythm to it.

  3. There are pros and cons in living in the fast lane or the slow lane. I would love the see the stars and planets at night though, away from the street lights. Just cannot stand it, because there are no hospitals, doctors nearby and the internet is very slow. Your title says it all.

  4. “where people take their poverty indoors” how how how brilliant is this line. poverty hurts but it has its own interesting perks, too. I’ve lived through it most of my life.

    1. Thank you!
      Poverty in the city is more visible, but there are different kinds of poverty, and the cultural poverty of the countryside is very real. Makes people desperate. When you live where you live because you don’t have the means to live anywhere else, it’s a trap.

  5. Well-done with the prompt. I didn’t even try it.
    Yes, the pros and cons of everywhere. I wouldn’t want to live right in the city, but I also don’t like being far from everything.
    And yes, poverty is everywhere.

    1. Thank you 🙂 I almost didn’t even try either. I don’t like the beat poets and have no affinity with the world they describe. But the squalor of city centres is the same the world over, I suspect.

      1. When you live in the middle of anything, you stop seeing it, and the ugliness as well as the beauty begins to wash over you. Like families in that respect too. We don’t notice the warts and we take the good aspects rather for granted.

      2. Yes, I suppose so. Or perhaps you have to make a conscious effort to see it, good and bad, beautiful and ugly. We filter everything through our own experiences.

      3. Something that is difficult to measure is perception. The people who are convinced we’re over-run by immigrants tend to be the people who live in places without any immigration since the last immigration of Portuguese and Italians 50 years ago. They just ‘think’ we are.

    1. Thank you! Poverty is all around us, it just takes different forms. But there’s a huge difference between poverty and simplicity. The rich are often culturally and spiritually very poor.

    1. Thanks Punam. The city has huge advantages over the countryside for almost everything except peace and quiet. Once you get used to the quiet, it’s hard to accept the endless noise again.

  6. I lived among giant old growth, in the foothills of the western slope of Mt Hood in the Cascade Mountains. Wild animals were my night noises, and a billion stars were on display every night in the clearing on the ridge 150 feet behind my house — where my wife and I built our fire circle — and where as many nights we sat there without a fire, just to watch the amazing night sky dance. Health has moved us into civilization, in a neighborhood on the north eastern shores of Lake Washington, where houselights have ruined the night sky — I feel like my soul was ripped out. Death before dying.

      1. I am grateful beyond words. The pain in my soul magnifies for me how special and enthralling it was.

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