Images: part of an installation,
“A Thousand Bottles of Tears” by Deborah Tompsett
Ashburnham Place, September 2016


Heavy sighs tumble
from cracked lips
into cracked cups,
and two sugars can’t sweeten
the bitterness of betrayal
felt by silent hordes,
savaged by successive
stretched and eroded
to the point of
Heavy hearts,
heavy eyes,
weary of a steady diet of
bad news, blame and
value range tinned goods.
What strength remains
is ploughed valiantly into
keeping it all together:
food on the table,
school uniforms,
bills paid.
Nothing left for fighting
the real enemy.
Youth’s vigour and
keenness of mind spent –
along with meager pounds –
on short-lived essentials.
Bitter tears fall into
bitter tea,
no cash for sugar today.
Cookie jars
house only crumbs
and the memories of
seaside long-weekends:
cabarets, cocktails,
well-earned breaks.
Tired fingers scrabble in
the familiar
backs of drawers,
sides of sofas,
for pennies toward
a pint of milk.
Heavy sighs,
bitter tears,
fall into empty cups
from empty lives,
rich heritages cleaned out;
scraped bare.
Aspirations hung out to dry:
a bleak warning to all who dare
to be born without privilege.


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