Tonight I witnessed poverty


Squatting on the pavements

Keeping their bodies warm

With the food of burning fire

Ignited by hunger and scraps of paper

And … lean sticks,

Collected and looted from the garbage

And pavements…

As weak and tender as their rotting bones

And dried up bodies

Hungry eyes cooking meek ‘ rotis’

Dipped in the sweat of their brown

And tarnished faces

Exhaustion writ large

Famished babes

Sucking the empty, dangling teats

To draw out an ounce of anything

That could drain the nectar from its mother

Rows and rows of ravenous fire

Burning in – and burning out-

Rising up, up and up

To reach some hope for tomorrow

Another day spent…

Another morn…

Life drags on…

Vacant eyes follow me home…

                                                                 ~Shobha Diwakar

                                                                    Jabalpur, India


  1. very touching and beautiful poem.

  2. thank you Ms Naik for your appreciation

  3. O K R Sivagnanam

    Poverty witnessed and well exposed by Ms. Shobha Diwakar!

    Pitiable is the plight of the pavement dwellers squeezed with acute poverty!
    The horror of hunger-
    No wherewithal to satiate!
    Seems, endurance the meal
    To the suffering lot!
    Burning fire is fortunate
    To get its food from nowhere!
    But alas, the poor
    Retire empty-stomach
    To sleepless nights!
    Not a day’s ritual at that!
    Spectacle of unfed babies
    Sucking empty teats
    Of starved mothers
    A heart-rending scene!

    Will they see the light
    At the end of the tunnel?

  4. thank U OKRS ji for your beautiful poem in support of life’s reality

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