SQUATTERS (Slum-Dwellers)

a poem by Elizabeth Padillo Olesen, Denmark

We cleaned the Dorm this morning
and found the dead rat
The Matron said it stank
and must be thrown out.
I suggested a good grave
but she said,
“Throw it into the garbage.”

I pity the innocent rat
helpless at the dreadful
claws of the cat.

So we argued.
She said, “Rats are dreadful!
and cats are the protectors!”
She complained about her loss
Mentioned about the her torn,
Tattered rags and cartoons.
She said, “Rats must be exterminated
That the City of man gets rid
Of the ugly and grotesque!”

But I said,
“They need their right home
and if dead, they need
the right grave.”

I see no longer the native rats
because of the wild cats
No more torn, tattered rags,
papers and cartoons.
And the wild cats rejoice
over the order and new wonders
for which the Matron –
the recipient of congratulations.

“Rats must not contaminate
the City of Man,”
the Matron said.
And she added,
“They are eyesores
They smell and stink
so throw them
into the garbage.”



In a number of slum areas in the major cities in the Philippines can be found slum dwellers that live
in a very dehumanising situation. But on top of this malady are the powerful elites who look at them as eyesores to be thrown out, ejected, if their elite eyes should only gaze at the scenes of beauty and luxury.

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