Poems from Doorway SleepOut 2012

As written about elsewhere on this site, on Saturday 28th January 2012, the Doorway Sponsored SleepOut took place. This was timed to take place during Poverty and Homelessness Action Week, the theme for which this year was ‘Breaking Barriers’ – “Our world is filled with barriers between people. Barriers that prevent us from understanding one another. They are created by……..the stigma attached to being poor or homeless”.

In St Andrew’s Churchyard, guests, volunteers, Doorway staff, sponsored sleepers, local dignitaries, ‘ordinary people’, the currently homeless, the previously homeless, those who had narrowly avoided being homeless, and those for whom that shadow has not (yet) crossed their lives, mingled without barriers. And during the SleepOut, there was a service in the Church, including two poems written and read out for the occasion by guest ‘jml10‘, who had also written and read out a poem for the Homelessness Sunday service in 2011.

One of the sponsored sleepers, Mark Urmston of BAE Systems, also wrote a poem, inspired by his experience of ‘sleeping out’ – “In my spell of being awake (around 3:15), I started wondering just how close to the edge we all are and it started to form in to a poem/prayer”.

So, poems from ‘both sides of the barrier’. Poems from two sensitive and expressive human beings. Here are all three.


by jml10


You rise up early in the morning

And you haven’t got a hat

The doves are getting thinner

And the crows are getting fat

Gather up belongings

Stuff them in a sack

Creep away to town

Down some forgotten muddy track


The morning crowd disperses

And you pray that no-one stops

You pilfering sustenance

From round the back of shops

A ghost that haunts the days

Begging for a light

Blurring the wings of a moth

Into one long endless night


A dull and dreary day

Turning into gloomy dark

Brooding thoughts return

With the starlings in the park

Bundled in the doorway

An uninvited guest

Fists clenched under armpits

Knees drawn to the chest


A head disappears inside a coat

Like a tortoise in a shell

Who knows his home is heaven

xxxxxxxxBecause homelessness




by Mark Urmston


What if the bed I think of

Was nothing but a dream,

One trip along life’s footpath,

And it’s all washed down the stream.


Instead this box around me,

Became my long term home.

My life in to a rucksack,

Lost my friends, all alone.


The forecast that I’ve watched all week

And joked of scenes of snow

Becomes of life and death to me.

Can you laugh at 10 below?


What happens to my family

If the money all dried up.

Could we be strong together

Or would the pressure tear us up?


It’s not that hard to get there.

To the box beside the bin

Were all playing a lottery,

And a life is what we win.


Redundancy and lack of jobs

Economy gone to pot

The welfare state on life support

It doesn’t take a lot.


So as I lay here thinking

In this cardboard box bed

I pray that this is not the way

My life is set to tread


I pray for all who haven’t got

A bed to call their own

And ask you walk beside them

So they won’t feel so alone.


And for the lucky ones like me

Who have a place to go,

I pray that in our hearts dear Lord.

You’ll help us all to know


That shadows in a doorway

Are people made by you.

All you make are equal

Loving them, we’re loving you.


Doorway (2012)

by jml10


If your life’s turned upside down

Your fortunes turned around

When the sky is black

And your world is turning blue

There’s no time to hesitate

Stand at the door and wait

Just come on down to Doorway

Come on through


There you’ve got a place

You’re not just another face

Not just another rebel without a clue.

In a friendly smile you see

Your protected humanity

So come on down to Doorway

Come on through


People care about each other

People change, people move

And people do.

Lay aside your schemes

Your long-lost forgotten dreams

And come on down to Doorway

Come on through


They say that love is wide

It is long and deep and high

It’s here on Earth not just up in the sky.

If you don’t believe me be my guest

And put it to the test

And come on down to Doorway

Come on through

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