She should be where her children play

She sits outside in rain and snow
with cardboard cup to tell us how
she left her family behind
to feed them from the coins we throw.

But people pass and never mind
for all they know she could be blind.
ashamed I smile and fold a bill
a token to pretend I’m kind.

Some say it just depends on will
to work for wages, have the skill
to feed their children far away
why beg for money – sitting still?

I wonder how to find a way
to give them housing, let them stay
at home to see their children play
she should be where her children play.

Today at dVerse MTB Gay wants us to use the format of the poem “Stopping by wood a snowy evening” by Robert Frost. I did a slight variation of the last row, instead of repeating. The theme is from Sweden where poor people come from Eastern Europe to beg on the streets. Many of them are Roma, and apparently their conditions are worse at home than begging on the streets. From what I can see they don’t get a lot of money, and I just wish that they could have conditions that are decent where they come from. It is terrible to see mothers begging in Stockholm instead of being with their children.

33 responses to “She should be where her children play

  1. nice. smooth.
    a sad reality for many…and i think that it is the easy
    route out…or excuse to say they are unwilling to work…
    there is usually a much deeper story…how we view and care
    for the least of us…says much…

  2. A beautiful and heart wrenching poem, Bjorn, In the late 80’s we started having more women on street corners from Eastern Europe as well in Montreal. So sad…beautifully penned.

  3. I too saw those middle Eastern women begging when I was in Europe. It is so sad to think of what their stories might be. Over here in Australia our terrible government locks them up!

  4. You really worked the rhyme scheme well in this poem, Bjorn, and wrote one with a strong message. I wonder why the Roma you wrote about come to Sweden, which is so cold in winter, rather than to a country which is more mild…since they have a choice on where to settle. Any thoughts? I have mixed feelings about the Roma. Is this way of life so ingrained in them that they just follow it because of tradition, do you think? I wish there would be a way to break the pattern.

    • They come to Sweden because most of other European countries prohibit them from coming. Actually Roma people history is a very sad one. They were kept as slaves until around 1850 in many countries… so I think some suspicion is rightfully ingrained, just as many of us have it. Here in Sweden many of them were sterilized and they were victims of the Holocaust.. but it is not by choice they live like they do..

  5. So sad to see these mothers begging, actually to see anyone begging on the streets ~ We have some beggars here too in our city and people pass them by ~ I would rather support a long term solution to the problem rather than give them coins but still that coin can go a long way ~

  6. In France, there are two distinct groups of Roma and I believe the situation in Sweden is not very different. The first group has been in the country for several centuries. They are not integrated, there are not enough appropriate campsites for their specific needs but there are schemes for their children to go to school and they do not beg. The second group only arrived a couple of decades ago. It seems that the women and children are put on the streets to beg by the men.
    In any case, it is a European issue on which our governments should spend more time and energy to ensure these people have decent living conditions.

    • Actually the first group are a national minority and romani is a language, they live in normal apartments and houses. They are not integrated (whatever that means) but they are Swedes. The second group come and stay for a short while, they leave children with relatives and beg for money on the streets here… and yes it is a European issue.

  7. sad reality; a lot of people are so fucking heartless and how the nerve to say the homeless are just, “lazy” when they don’t know a damn thing about them or their story. I can’t bring myself to pass someone who asks for some change – main reason why I still keep cash on me. Great write, Bjorn; hit a home run and stuck to the rhyme scheme 🙂

  8. Kudos, brother, as you rock the rhyme but kick butt with the message at the same time; you always share so much of your own life & environment, educating as well as entertaining us; always a joy to drop by here & pick up on your latest concern. By the by, I do dig your recent forays into prose, short stories & stuff.

  9. Exquisite weaving here – you are able to both paint and imply such a clear portrait and give us deep emotions that surround it in these few well written and pithy lines. Excellent use of the form!!

  10. Very effective poem combined with image. 🙂

    The world is full of The Others. Those who have been marked as different and then made to pay for it. Those who define their state fail to see or fear to see that we are all The Others. We condemn one another as we are driven by fear, selfishness, greed, blind ignorance and wilful ignorance.

  11. Oh really good Björn – and please know you and Claudia inspired me to respond to this prompt.

    As a night worker I must admit to being a bit suspicious of street beggars – Roma or not. Early morning and dependent on prevailing weather conditions will decide on those who appear to have been ‘sleeping on the street.’ Snow or heavy rain – they will be there – a moderate climate they will be not.

    Through this knowledge, regrettably I have become hardened…

    Kind regards
    Anna :o]

  12. Oh my God, Bjorn, how heartrending. Yes, one wants to find them an apartment, get them all set up…..and we cant…..but I cant help wondering WHY some social agency isnt helping them have the very basic necessities a human needs to live. Sigh. LOVED how wonderfully you executed the form. To perfection!

  13. This is a beautiful poem, realistic, still with a lot of emotion. Perfectly penned, true to the form, and beautifully taken home. One may agree or disagree with the opinion you express, but one must give you credit for the lovely poem.

  14. This really tugs at the emotions. Here in Seattle there are many homeless people begging for change at the street corners. I give when I have something, but I cannot imagine anyone making it on the guilty remnants of strangers’ kindness. To know that people in your region travel so far and leave so much at home for so little… It is heartbreaking.

    I feel your empathy through your words.

  15. These are so easy for you, although I think I read it before; I could be wrong..I feel for those people..there but for the grace of God go I
    ..I hope you feel better soon

  16. Wow, loved the last line.
    Fantastic political poem.
    And this coming from someone who does not feed off the state, right?
    You are a physicist for private sector, or state university …?
    Doesn’t your country have great Welfare system — is this street beggar from your country or fictional?
    OK, enough questions. (following)

    • I’m no longer working as a physicist.. now spending my time in a private company. The Roma are migrants from poorer countries of the European Union – and its more or less true.. There are many women and men coming here.

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