is a tramp, a vagrant,
a bag-man, a cadger, a scrounger,
a dodger, a dusty old traveller
who stumps down the lanes
and dosses in ditches
wound up in the leaves in his flea-bitten coat.

A hedgehog’s a nose
for a bite to eat, a hand-me-out
at the garden gate.
He grunts like a drunk
when he comes in late:
a great snuffle-kerfuffle
as loud as a dog
as he stumbles about
his dinner-plate.
He’s a drifter, a loafer,
a poacher, a hobo, a no-go
roll-over touch-me-not waster,
unshaven and brazen
and canny of eye.

If he knocks at your door
as he passes by you’d do well to oblige
with a sleeping-place.
For his poverty
could be you or me.
And the autumn night
with its white-clear light
is as sharp as the stars
in his crinkled face.

Illustration by Cliff Wright   Poem by Stuart Henson   from Prickly Poems Hutchinson Children’s Books, 1992


Stuart Henson has also contributed poems to the Hutchinson Children’s Books Anthologies Paws & Claws (for the Cats Protection League) and Over The Moon (for the British Sports Association for the Disabled).  In these collections writers such as Roger McGough, Helen Dunmore, Wes Magee… and Paul Gascoigne offer poems, rhymes and limericks on themes close to the heart of the societies.





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