Treasure Island

Adeline Foster

(Instructor of poetry, Hagerstown, MD)

^We The Unencumbered

Tattered misfits, we are called,
We ask not hate nor love;
Survival is our handbook
Stitched with suspicion's glove.
....We the unencumbered -
........We the homeless rove...

Nomads of an affluent age,
Life viewed from simple stance;
Lacking wage or praise of skill
We use what comes of chance.
....We the unencumbered -
........We the homeless stand...

Exiled by necessity,
We accept what has to be.
Yet beats a heart within us
That bleeds as others bleed.
....We the unencumbered -
........We the homeless need...

Pride to own, as fierce as yours,
And devotion to a creed:
The lux'ry of simplicity
Is what we ask and need.
....We the unencumbered -
........We the homeless plead...

That we your discards salvage,
For which you have no use,
Condemns us not as outright thieves,
Nor do we all abuse.
....We the unencumbered -
........We the homeless choose...

Not to offend your conscience
Do we offend your eyes,
Or creep beneath your city life,
Or sleep beneath your skies.
....We the unencumbered -
........We the homeless bide...

Dim beneath your high-rise flats;
Your costly tenements,
Where order and disorder meet
In churlish arguments,
....We the unencumbered -
........ We the homeless tent...

Relieved of rent or power bill,
No cable TV fee;
Allotted to the crumbs that fall,
We joy in what is free.
....We the unencumbered -
........We the homeless spree...

Drop-outs from affluency,
Who own naught but ourselves;
Senses dulled for want of tears,
Numb for want of cause.
....We the unencumbered -
........We the homeless pause...

Against the angry indigo
In the profile of a storm,
Amid our cardboard shanties
Where newsprint keeps us warm
....We the unencumbered -
........We the homeless scorn...

Palates trained in preference,
We forage as the beast.
Over-ripe, rejected scraps
Become the gleaner's feast.
....We the unencumbered -
........We the homeless fast...

Reclaimed costumes, dated, yet
Suiting a timeless style;
In beauty of sufficiency
Resplendent for a while.
....We the unencumbered -
........We the homeless smile...

Deprived of aspirations,
But to live as best we dare.
Ambition is, as we have seen,
But avarice of care.
....We the unencumbered -
........We the homeless share...

Poverty out-witted for -
History's pages do attest -
All humans are not fitted for
Civ'lization's callousness.
....We the unencumbered -
........We the homeless rest.

Submitted: Saturday, December 27, 2008
Edited: Sunday, April 27, 2014

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Comments about this poem (^We The Unencumbered by Adeline Foster )

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  • Thomas A Robinson (8/7/2014 4:29:00 PM)

    I remember reading this poem several years ago. It impresses me now as much as before. Good to read good poems again like old friends. (Report) Reply

  • Diane Hine (7/26/2014 1:54:00 AM)

    'rove, stand, need, plead........share, rest' are all words which could equally be applied to the affluent. In other words, there's less difference between us all than some would like to think. This is an impressively structured poem. (Report) Reply

  • Elena Plotkin (7/23/2013 10:04:00 AM)

    I wholeheartedly agree with Valerie Dohren's comment. Brilliant work- A solid ten. In a way it reminds me of Judy Garland's and Fred Astaire's we are a couple of swells only with a heavy dose of reality. (Report) Reply

  • Valerie Dohren (4/20/2013 12:44:00 PM)

    Superb Adeline - being unencumbered often means to be free, but this kind of freedom is wrong and should be addressed by the powers that be. Very skilfully written, enjoyed very much. Going into my favs. (Report) Reply

  • Jetty J Newnham (11/5/2012 4:45:00 PM)

    In britain we have a welfare state, although our present government would dearly love to be rid of it. yes we have homeless but as we are so much small than the states its not so prominent, the mad was aimed at a Murdock! Its become bigger than that now really I feel that the mad is capitalist society (Report) Reply

  • Connor Whyte (6/13/2012 4:24:00 PM)

    That was extremely long and well thought out when I kept scrolling down there was more and fed my eyes with your brilliant words. Reminds me of being a young kid and causing a little trouble and not having a care in the world. Amazing skills in writing you have. (Report) Reply

  • J.b. Lebuert (2/23/2012 1:57:00 PM)

    Another jewel Miss Adeline - especially because now I'm joing the unencumbered, more and more each day, but I can't give up my computer or internet access - then I'd miss your beautiful thoughts (Report) Reply

  • Roy Hackers (12/15/2011 3:39:00 PM)

    This is a really great poem I enjoyed this very much and thank you for your comment on 'loving you' yes I will be putting more on soon thanks again.


    Roy (Report) Reply

  • Michelle Freeman (10/17/2011 9:15:00 PM)

    very beautiful, very moving. reminds me of a Shakespeare play 'Merchant of Venice' where the character Slylock asked '...if you cut us do we not bleed...' the quote isn't direct but your poem reminded me of that, because the homeless or anyone seen as the fringe of society is too often dismissed of all human attributes which is wrong because if we cut them they will bleed as they are the same as us. (Report) Reply

  • Alvin Kathembe (11/3/2010 3:21:00 PM)

    Took my breath away. This is the kind of poetry I've always admired, and strive to it twice, trying to figure out the iambic meter...then a third time to let the message sink in...then a fourth 'cause it was just that good. You've won yourself a fan :) (Report) Reply

  • To Windward (9/20/2010 6:57:00 AM)

    The poem is well crafted, has wonderful imagery and may invite the reader to look at the subject afresh.
    However, written in the first person “We”, the poem, perhaps unintentionally, suggests that all homeless people' s views of their situation are summed up here. The style also suggests a commonality in beliefs by suggesting that homeless people have a common creed, which I strongly question. The reality is that people become homeless for a multitude of reasons, and because of this, their experiences of, and views about, being homeless vary enormously. Using the term “The homeless” reinforces this banding together as unfortunately as using a term such as “The disabled”.
    Whilst I’ve been rather critical of the poem’s viewpoint, there is much to enjoy here, and I particularly liked the thought and the phrasing of the line that suggests that “ambition is avarice of care”. I reckon it’s possible to write a book about this thought alone. (Report) Reply

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