In this poem, the poet presents the lives of poor, deprived people with pitiless clarity and deepest sympathy and humanity.
The poet describes a roadside stand or a stall that has just come up with a small, new shed. The owners of the stand are desperately in need of money in order to make a living. But sadly, none of the vehicles that pass the stand even glance at it. They feel that it is below their dignity to purchase something from such a small shop. Even if they look at the shop, they grumble that the shop is spoiling the landscape with its ugly, artless paint and dirty signboard. They do not care for the wild berries, squash or pictures that have been kept for sale at the stand. The stand owners only need some money because they hope to make their lives the way it is depicted in movies.
In the second stanza, the poet speaks about a rumour that such poor people are going to be gathered to live in villages. The politicians make false promises and take advantage over their weakness and helplessness.
The politicians are called ‘greedy good-doers’ and ‘beasts of prey’ because they promise to work for the welfare of these people but actually want to derive benefits themselves.
The poet says he cannot bear to see the sadness and longing in the eyes of the poor people. They wait all day, hoping to hear the sound of a car stopping to ask about their ware. Even if a car does stop, it does so only to use the yard to turn the car around or to ask the way. Or else, to ask whether the stand could sell it a gallon of gas, which they couldn’t.
The condition of these deprived people pains the poet and he wishes to put them out of their pain in one stroke. But since there is not much he can do about it, he says that he would like it if someone came and put him out of his pain, i.e., killed him.