The Rag Man

Tell me no secrets I’ll tell you no lies

Show me yours and I’ll show you mine

Spill the beans and I’ll lap them up

Pour out your heart ‘til it fills my cup

I’m a collector, a hoarder, a connoisseur

Sympathiser, confidant, friend - if you prefer

I’ll be whatever you need to satisfy my urge

The darkest parts of you will validate my worth

A problem shared is a problem halved, or so they always say

Let me share the load, I can make your debtors pay

A grain is all you need to give, I can do the rest

Fill in all the blanks, I’ll make you come off best

Just give me what I need

a pic, a text, a call, a post

Tell of their misdeeds

I’ll make it hurt the most

In every well told story lives a kernel of the truth

Feed my web of secrets I’ll spin a veil, in sooth

Photo by cottonbro on

I wrote this poem for my local poetry group; the theme was secrets, and it got me thinking how much we love a big juicy secret (as long as it’s someone else’s of course). I came across the word ‘sooth’ in my search for inspiration. I’ve heard of a soothsayer, but never sooth, which apparently means truth or reality. This got me thinking about the ways in which newspapers and the media spin truths and create realities (often for their own political ends) and I learned that fake news has been around as long as the news itself.

In America they used to call it Yellow journalism, here in the UK we call it tabloid journalism. As far back as 1898 Hearst & Pulitzer were said to have contributed to the American-Spanish war over Cuban independence, publishing exaggerated stories of atrocities to encourage war. In the UK we’re supposed to have impartial news outlets, such as the BBC, but from what I can see the use of exaggeration, scare-mongering and sensationalism typically characterising tabloid news can be found in all corners of the media.

This is what I like about writing; the quest for a simple poem led me down a history rabbit hole, and now I know a little more about the world than I did before, though still nowhere near as much as I’d like.

4 thoughts on “The Rag Man

    • Thanks Paul 😊 it certainly hasn’t, we found some fragments of old newspapers under the floorboards when we were renovating our house and it was the same old story in those too.

      I have to say I don’t tune into the news much now and I’m much better for it.


  1. This is so true. We have also very much reduced how often we expose ourselves to the news on BBC. I prefer to appear ignorant of what’s going on in the world than watch or listen to the news every day. Yet,apparently, when a news channel tried reporting happy, uplifting stories, it wasn’t popular with the public. It seems that humans just love a tragedy, as long as it doesn’t directly affect them. Lost all faith in the BBC.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I wonder who financed the research that said the public didn’t respond well to uplifting stories 🤣 (sorry, will take my cynical hat off now).

      On an optimistic note I’ve noticed more and more people withdrawing from watching the news and I others who are questioning the accuracy of the news they do read or hear and looking at multiple sources for information. If people vote with their feet and there’s a shift away from paying attention to the news perhaps the big news corporations will have to rethink.

      That would be nice. Imagine a world where we were constantly told of all the good being done on this beautiful Earth. With our faith in each other restored, what might the world look like?


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