3 poems by Paul Jeffcutt

Breakfast in Kutupalong *


Half a dozen skinny kids
squat around a tin pot
preparing the rice ration,
their tiny earth-floored hut
of bamboo and blue plastic sheet
shudders as the rains lash
these cramped border hillsides
to rust-brown streams of ooze.


Down the waterlogged trail
our lorry stalls,
laden with sacks of rice
from an Atlantic island
no stranger to damp or want.
Kalim grasps the wheel,
guns the flooded engine
and steadies a course
to the sea of ragged shelters.



A temporary camp in Bangladesh, with a million Rohingya refugees. It is by far the biggest
refugee camp in the world. The poem was written for Concern Worldwide


Customs


Mary makes the tea,
sets the pot on the hob,
slathers still-warm scones
with butter and damson jam,
plucks and fills two mugs,
stirs in a slip of milk
and heads for the parlour.


A red and white barrier
blocks the door to the hall—
the guard inspects her tray.
Export tariffs are due
on butter, flour and milk
before husband Pat
can take a bite.


Fruit Cake


Mix flour, sugar, butter, currants, sultanas, lemon & orange peel, almonds,
cloves, nutmeg and brandy.


Coat a deep rectangular tin with melted lard and line it with a double layer
of baking parchment.


Spoon in the mixture and bake at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for 3 ¾ hours;
leave to cool in the baking tin and turn out on a wire rack.


Wrap securely in waxed paper and store in an airtight tin decorated with a
globe and swallows, with Huntley & Palmers, All the World Over and By
Appointment to His Majesty the King emblazoned on the lid.


Convey by wagon and locomotive from the bakery in Reading to Cardiff Docks.


Sail to Madeira, South Trinidad, Simonstown, Melbourne, Lyttleton,
Port Chalmers and Cape Evans.


Disembark alongside flags, timber, weapons, fuel, instruments, sledges,
hardware, stoves, tents, alcohol, snowshoes, tobacco, dry goods, skis,
preserves, sleeping bags, clothing, 33 dogs, 25 men and 17 ponies.


‘Outside the door of the tent remains a wild scene of whirling drift. It seems a
pity but I do not think I can write more…’


Found unopened at Cape Adare, Antarctica, 106 years later.


Still edible

About the contributor

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