Peddlings / a poem


Too hot!

Too hot tourists huddle

beneath canopies of cloth and sip on ice

muttering and leaking and wafting away the fat flies.

As they settle, huffing about sticky seats amidst the city’s daily noise and mess,

Here come… in swarms – the peddlings.

First the pecking pigeons.

hop-scotching about the legs of tables, chairs and people

looking at feet, pale and smooth and hardly worked

eager for crumbs to eat.

Now a Hollerer calls… ‘Hey Man!’

‘You wana buy a watch?

Good, good price, for you, my friend – special offer!’

As the stuffed, tired heads bend and shake…

‘Hey Man! I have twelve children and three wives

so hungry, hungry, all to feed.’

He sells a string of painted beads and shuffles back to

his shaded lands.

Slinky, sliders scuttle near with arms full of bright charges

“Roses for your lady. Show you care, yes. Yes? Fresh, bright, new –

love, love only for a dollar – a pound – a pinch – one euro”

Memories for sale! Take-home treats of sun-baked streets

and happy lazy days in shade with ice-cold beers…

Carved Tigers! A glittered princess for your bambino – a rug – scarf – hat – parasol – novelty lighter – fans – bangles – candles – sweets – bowls – all special prices…

Good souvenirs for friends at home – show you thought of them

whilst you were not there, in the cold and rain and working hours.

Beggars arrive.

Swaddled in rags.

Dirt clouds over their human selves

they are like shadows, wavering mirages in the heat.

Hands held out, a simple gesture that brings waves of utter distaste.

And hate. Those hungry eyes seem to know too much.

Pockets over-ripe, bulge with offers

ready for the picking, are soon held, tight.

Peddlers & pigeons pecking grounds

plucking at, plump pockets – doing the rounds.

Pinching prices, pumping for pounds

Peddlers & pigeons around and around.

Surrounded! by the swarms and hoards

buzzing and biting ~~~

Honest-working tourist staff will curse and run the pests amok

Scattered all ways, they flitter and slowly – creep back.

“So hot! Too hot Sir. You need a hat –

A selfie-stick, yes? For all the tacky-tacky tourists shots.

Lady, a parasol, a fan?

Come, you wealthy, wealthy – spare some cash.

Give me a dime. You have so much.

My friend…let’s do a fair trade…

Sell me your sorrows, give me your woes

Exchanged for a charm, holy blessed, lucky, lucky – look.

Swap your troubles, your stress and worries.

You have so much.

Share a little, my friend.

Share a little of your troubles, with me.”

Peddlers & pigeons pecking grounds

plucking at, plump pockets – doing the rounds.

Pinching prices, pumping for pounds

Peddlers & pigeons around and around.

>> The End <<

Of course I was working - look! That's what I did today.

Of course I was working – look! That’s what I did today.

I wrote this based on my observations whilst in Rome. Of course it could be anywhere.

The sellers do act like swarms of annoying insects and if you don’t want their wares it can be frustrating.

But it is so easy to forget, they are humans just trying to survive.

Lizzie HW


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