‘Doorways’: A poem by Terry Buchanan

Posted on March 7, 2011 by Categories: Chippenham, Homelessness, Poetry, Wiltshire Tags: , , , ,

Editor’s note – this poem has been published by homeless charities in the USA and Canada, and is reproduced here by kind permission of Terry, who is based in Chippenham. Terry told us:

“It is not something I have personally experienced but when I worked in London, each morning I would see the doorstep sleepers. Many of them were young people and some were elderly. But, they were all labelled as down and out when no one knew what personal circumstances drove them onto the streets. The ones that really got to me were the elderly ladies, if I saw one I would have to cross the street to give them breakfast money”

The Dream Box – Terry Buchanan 2011


The chill winter wind scours the

shop door ice-stoned steel hard bed,

seeking night-time retail sleepers

who on this day have not been fed.

The counter tills are keen to ring

the wealthy shoppers’ debit cost,

but the night-time open doorways

are queues for those of profit lost.


Huddled in refuse cardboard box

newspaper print rubbed linen sheet;

they are homeless un-wanted ghosts

condemned to haunt the ghostly street.

In daylight hours pavement public weave,

avoiding hungry beggar tug

at cashmere silk lined sleeve


Step men are easily recognised

as rough coated hollow eyed,

proffing the ‘homeless’ magazine

to seek a gentle touch of pride.

They drink from cans of bitter beer

to sweeten thoughts of unknown fear.

As night cape cloaks the streets once more,

they rush back home to ’welcome’ mat

to keyless door and stone bed flat


 Cold bound in sickened weakest frame;

they exist though no man can

hear their given Christian  name.

Born as every human must

vagrant shadows longing for a crust.

Dreaming of warm woollen blanket

on a full-sprung mattressed bed.

Greatest prayer their cold lips make,

to be discovered cold, and dead.


 © Terry Buchanan

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