About One in Two Hundred Thousands

Late evening, I walk past the guildhall
pride of place epitomised in stone
Victoria's solid figure set glum-faced
stares unseeing across the city square
Did imperial majesty not make you happy, ma'am?

Ahead a space, where a big block stood
reduced to its foundations with civic care
floor-by-floor removed
kitchens, bathrooms, lounges
down-to-earth homes now grounded

This rebuilt city shifts again
from its 1940s shattered remains
to quick-fix accommodation
to divided houses with doorbells arrayed
too many people in too little space

Concrete defences fight off the rapacious sea
While two hundred thousand people relax
By turning up the television volume
To hide a woman's screams
On screen that's entertainment
as for her, reality bites

I hesitate and turn
Which street? Which low-rise?
I cannot locate the source of pain
Someone surely must be closer
Police already called to intervene

I walk on clinging to my timely rediscovered belief
in love-thy-neighbour
myths of Blitz-spirit community
the local friendly British Bobby
under mocking seagull cries


n.b. NaPoWriMo 2022 Day Twelve prompt; something small. Here the possible odds of somebody doing the right thing in time.

CLP 12/04/2022


  1. This is so vivid and evocative, Chris. I love it 💕🙂

    1. Thank you Harmony.

  2. We’re all guilty, I fear. Too easy to lose ourselves in our stone streets.

    1. I always feel it’s friendlier in cities, better chance of meeting the like-minded, sociable types. Of course villages offer that, but a smaller pool to draw on.

      1. The people in cities are more open-minded than people in rural areas. But there are also more places to hide and be anonymous.

      2. It is easier to be lost in a city too.

  3. Romana Iorga says:

    Heartbreaking… “two hundred thousand people relax / By turning up the television volume / To hide a woman’s screams”💔 What’s happening to our world?

    1. It’s a poetic impression, but one wonders what goes on sometimes.

  4. Excellent 🖤

      1. You’re so welcome 🖤

  5. Alana says:

    “Did imperial majesty not make you happy, ma’am?” Love this piece.

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