Where Charity Ends


The cash
scorched their pockets,
so they drove to the shops.

They bought
silly hats for Ascot,
nifty jackets to match the fashion,
trainers imported from dim Asian sweatshops,
nasty plastic bracelets for no special reason,
dresses that hungry children had studded with beads
so secretaries could look like hippies when they hit the festival fields.

They slurped greedy treats
while on TV screens, malnourished children
struggled to breathe.

“Charity begins at home,” said mum,
speedily switching to BBC where a documentary
displayed equally disturbing images. “We can’t
let the kids see this,” said dad,
and switched channel again.

“We have no money for a third holiday
since the kitchen extension was so pricey,” said mum,
“and we can’t afford to improve our second home
as we’ve just had to pay for your shiny red
penis extension in the garage,”
she added.

They ordered oodles of takeaway
and ate chunks of cake while they waited.
When the food arrived they shovelled a few bites
then rudely shoved their plates away,
complaining that they were full.

Mum scraped waste into the obese garbage bin,
wondering why
she had so little appetite.

Meanwhile, in Somalia,
mothers held their breath, hunger forgotten as they watched
the struggle of small chests, hearing not their own wails
when deathly silence fell.


©Jane Paterson Basil

26 thoughts on “Where Charity Ends

  1. Very powerful Jane, I think you’ve put me off my brekkie. The grossness of some in our societies astounds me, and their selfish ability to live in a glass cocoon without looking in the mirror is beyond my comprehension, your poem is superb. 😊 xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Ivor. I hate the phrase; “Charity begins at home”. Roughly translated, it means “I don’t give a flying fig for the suffering of humanity, especially if their skin is a different colour than mine.” xx


          1. Then I’m a very happy person today because I’ve been reading you for aong time since finding you through Raili and I particularly love your poetry so that means a lot to me. You’re the kind of mind I like reading because you always make me question and think. Our society doesn’t do that very much nowadays.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. It means a lot to me to be told that. Sometimes when I write it feels as if I’m doing little more than recycling old ideas. Maybe that’s because my mother was a forward-looking free-thinker, and we used to discuss everything under the sun.

              Liked by 1 person

              1. That’s where you get your brain from then, but the difference is, our generations don’t have as much as prior generations by way of good conversation and thinking and ideas. So we’re left feeling rudderless. I have never thought you recycled but I know what you mean. It’s hard to meet real thinkers these days you must miss those conversations as I know I do with my grandmother.


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