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Saturday, 17 February 2018

Waste items

She wakes in the disused doorway

of what used to be BHS, eyes slumped

like sleeping bags. A laminated sign

is tacked to the small mound

of everything she has left

courtesy of Bristol Waste, stating

that these items will be discarded

if they are not removed

within twenty four hours. She places it

on the pavement,

next to her board selling dreamcatchers

to passers-by, picks up

the two pounds forty in coppers

lining her damp guitar case

and with gloved but shaking hands

begins her accusing song.

© Penny Shutt

Dr Penny Shutt is a poet and psychiatrist from Cornwall. She writes about mental health, medicine and motherhood after recently becoming a foster mum to her nephew. Some of her poems can be found at and she tweets @drpennyshutt


  1. A well-drawn picture. I think the 'what used to be BHS' setting also adds a feeling of despair to the whole poem.

  2. Hi Penny, how are you? Great to see you in Poetry24 with such a hard-hitting poem. Scenes like this,one every day here in Penzance. Take care. Abi

  3. Great to read this, it is good to know some people have the sort of words that can give voice to injustice. Graham morgan

  4. A very moving poem which highlights the inhumanities of our so-called 'caring society'.

  5. Brilliant as always Penny - deceptively simple and saturated with feeling. Love the 'eyes slumped like sleeping bags' metaphor.

  6. Well done and important to highlight people who are too often shoved away like waste.