Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Tunisia et al....

It started as a spring-
A Spring- new shoots
ah, the irony
of shoots

A Spring to democracy,
words get jumbled don't you know?
like fear, like hatred

squashed emotions produce
and blinkered desperation

is where we are- on so many fronts
in the bloody void
of boated migrants, of 'terrorism'

can we continue to look away
as we look to the surface
and not examine the roots?

The ravaged remains of rubble, of humans, of hearts
of what we have done?
By the doing of everything and nothing,

we are all humanity when it suits us...
some say, in it together

The seeds of the Spring?
the camera- ever on and moving on.

Ah, in high summer I await winter, reflection of roots
and a Spring of reality for the decisioners,
treating the cause and not the symptoms
probably requires profuse pain for the privileged
as well as the rest who have already paid.

©Kathy V.J. Miller, June, 2015

Kathy V. J. Miller is currently an English teacher in South London who writes poetry, children's stories and is currently working on a novel about those who returned to Portugal in 1974 from former Portuguese colonies following the fall of the fascist regime, among other themes. She worked at the Universidade do Porto in Portugal for 12 years before returning to the UK in 1998. Fascinated by issues of identity and committed to the importance of literacy, she is also interested in politics, language and literature.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

The Beginning

We marched as if our lives depended on it.
We marched together, the young and the old,
The Monks, the Buddhists,
The Fire-fighters and Teachers;
And believe me it seemed
The Police too walked with us.
Marching for the poor, for the weak,
For the frail, for all
Condemned to live in Austerity’s gaol
Of hunger and cold.
A sea unstoppable, in our thousands we marched
Deep into the dark heart of the City,
Where temples to Mammon rose up around,
Like a forest of stone.
Do you not see
How their roots go a long way down?
The rot goes a long way down.
The Capitol was breached;
It was cleansed with our tide,
Our footsteps on The Strand.
Marching down Fleet Street;
The echoes of History
In the alleys of urchins,
Past the dead eyes of Wellington,
The blind stare of Nelson,
The stone faces of those who guard the elected elite.
Upon pavements, the perfumed ones
Sidled past, staring.
Was that fear in their eyes?
Or just glazed indifference?

I saw the fires they feared, the masked revellers,
Carnival flares burning brightly,
Hearts beating faster,
Shouts growing louder.
We do not believe in your authority.
We believe in communities;
We believe in togetherness;
We believe in kindness and in compassion.
On that day one quarter of a million,
Marched together as if all our lives depended upon it.
For we are many; and you are few.
And this is just the beginning.

© Lisa Rossetti June 2015

Click for more about Lisa Rossetti

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Slipping Through The Cracks

I'm not going to lie and say I'm a happy person all the time.
There are days I don't want to be around anyone, literally.  My illnesses affect me in a vastly complex ways. I have a wonderful GP who I wouldn't be here if I hadn't met over fifteen years ago.
He and a few others over the years have said I should write down what I feel and maybe get it off my chest. This more important than ever now there are such high demands for mental health support and limited one-on-one sessions. So here is a snippet.

Slipping through the cracks of what used to be a life.
People turning away from me because my dark thoughts aren't so nice.
I've been feeling down for quite some time now: four years, maybe five.
Memories of better times and now my daughter are what keep me ticking by.
Week in week out at night I'm sat alone.
I can't watch the TV and abject misery it brings.
I've heard so many tell me, "You're young. Things will change..."
With two chronic illnesses, a little girl, no prospects 
and no support, no confidant to engage.
I wonder how people can pass on by when I am one of millions more, 
shuffled to the side-lines abandoned and ignored.
They say I'm angry , bitter and mean, no wonder I am alone....
But once I had support and was standing tall, all on my own.
I've had that support taken from me; there's no one left to hear my cries.
I can't take much more of these cuts;
I can see why others have already died.
I am angry that alone I have to fight:
for my dignity and fair treatment just to stay alive.
I didn't choose to live this way. It's not a choice anyone makes
but I slipped between the pavers of the rules governments make.
I couldn't toe the line enough; my minds not built that way.
I’m creative and loving and whimsical;
but that's nowhere near enough these days.
Society's become so crippled with wise cracking and a vicious streak,
with everyone's inadequacies barely hidden underneath.
To point at others and mock them and deflect the heat from you:
it's a game of poker faces, laughing – until the fingers point at you.
So who is next to feel this despair then, who's next to be singled out?
Because these cuts are only just starting of that I have no doubt.
If you think that your life's perfect and people like me bring it on ourselves,
remember I wasn't always like this. I used to be someone else.
I had a job, I worked hard; and played hard too, just like you.
Then an illness took me over and that could so easily happen to you too.
Circumstances balance on a razors edge. We never realise
what we  were truly blessed with till we are left with nothing.
Where is the exit? I'm off!

Anyone else who feels like this sometimes, I hope this helps you see you are not alone xx

June, 2015, A Contributor

Monday, 22 June 2015

Some of Us Think

When it was Mental Health Awareness Week
the media embraced it, springing into action:
everywhere there were posters emblazoned with images
designed to make us stop and think;
on Facebook pages memes were being shared
and people were tweeting words of wisdom;
appeals were made and, on morning TV chat shows
where interviews were hosted and given,
statistics were quoted that would help us to see
just how easily it could have been us.
With a bit of bad luck or a life event or two,
we could have been drowning, not waving;
adrift in a sea of too many starless nights,
our starved hearts stifled by depression,
a flat black ocean ahead and behind us
as we floundered in the current of despair.

Some of us, however, already knew that;
some of us have been there;
some of us remember how steep the cliff face
and how wide-eyed and deep the abyss;
and some of us worked on, and some of us didn't;
and some of us soon gave up the struggle;
while some, the lucky ones,were able,
in the end, to find the long and winding way back.

But time moved on and Mental Health Awareness
somehow has slipped down the agenda.
Now is the time for new radical approaches
that will 'help get the nation back to work'.
Some of us, though, know how the system
works and some of us are angry and suspicious;
some of think this is just another heartless,
fraudulent, Tory Austerity trick.

And some of us believe this is just another stick
for beating those who already struggle.
a way of getting them 'off the sick'
by ticking boxes and 'treating' them with CBT.
Once the sick are not sick but 'seeking' a job
how much easier to get them all on sanctions.
Some of think there's a war going on
and the lines are being drawn for all to see.

Abigail Ottley Wyatt, June, 2015

From the Budget Document
1.236 Budget 2015 also announces a package of measures to improve employment outcomes for people with mental health conditions. Starting from early 2016, the government will provide online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to 40,000 Employment and Support Allowance and Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants and individuals being supported by Fit for Work. From summer 2015, the government will also begin toco-locate Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) therapists in over 350 Job centres, to provide integrate employment and mental health support to claimants with common mental health conditions.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Capable (for Jacqueline Harris)

Am I capable of what?
Of catching what?
A bus?
I'm sorry. I'm not sure I understand you.
Haven't I just told you of the pain I am in daily,
how I have to school myself to bear it,
how it eats away at the edges of my life
while my courage shrinks smaller every day?
I have such pain in my back,
and in these poor hands of mine;
and my eyesight, too, is failing.
A bus, you say.
I do not understand you.
What is it you would have me do?
Work? Yes I used to work.
Until my body was pressed
past all enduring.
I was a nurse. Yes.
There was a fall. At work.
My life was much altered that day.
Now you come at me with questions
I do not understand.
Have you not heard 
what I have told you?
Am I capable of catching a bus?
Are you capable of feeling 
Are you capable of human kindness?
Are you capable 
of love?

Abigail Ottley Wyatt, June, 2015


Thursday, 11 June 2015

I Am Not Charlie

I am not Charlie so my name means nothing.
I can never hope, in the current climate,
to become that kind of cause célèbre.
A buzz of curiosity is all the notice I attract
through a series of whispered exchanges;
there is early morning drama, something to see:
the shrugging of a pair of sleepy shoulders;
a question asked by a pair of arched eyebrows,
answered by the down-turned corners of a mouth,
the slow and solemn shaking of a head.

Last night I made my bed, as, lately, I’ve been forced
to by curling up tight  against the darkness:
I brought my knees up high, so, used the crook
of my arm to make a kind of cushion for my head.
Now, well into June, this sharp cold is unseasonal.
Still, in summer, most people do not think of us.
Only afterwards it strikes them:
'Oh, yes,’ they say, ‘I think I saw him.
In the underpass, going into town?’

Now, in the morning, they recollect some detail
that betrays how they knew all the time.
‘He didn’t have a dog like some of them do.’
‘His sleeping bag, wasn’t it blue?’
‘I saw him there a week ago, just before dark.’
‘He wore jeans and his eyes were like hollows.’
But I am not Charlie and, if you knew my name,
I am afraid it would mean not much to you.

Abigail Wyatt, 11th June, 2015

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

The Nudge Unit

I forgot to pay my car tax.
It isn’t the first time,
but with one thing and another,
well, you know how it is.
The letter they sent me,
well, it looked like any other,
addressed to me, Joe Bloggs.
A polite reminder.

But it slipped my mind again.
Buried under a pile of stuff,
it was out of sight.
You know how it happens.
But then they wrote to me again,
this time, with a big headline,
you couldn’t miss it,
‘Pay your tax or lose your Ford Fiesta.’

And there was a photo of my car,
my old car that I love,
underneath the headline.
Well, as you can imagine,
I kind of took notice.
I mean, that letter talked to me.
Not just anybody. Me.
It was addressed directly to me . . .

So I paid up. Went straight
to the Post Office and paid up.
And I wasn’t sure why.
But I kind of felt uncomfortable
about the letter.
It kind of felt, I don’t know,
intrusive? Weird? I mean,
who took the photo of my car?
When? What was I doing?
I felt a bit uneasy about it.

So I went on driving.
Tax disc all sorted. All alright.
And I put to the back of my mind
that strange letter they sent
with my photo in it.
It was only, well, months later,
that I was in the pub,
and I got chatting to somebody.
They used to work for the DVLA,
that kind of thing.

They said that, in my area,
at the time I forgot to pay my car tax,
the government, I don’t know,
some scientist it was,
did a kind of experiment
with the way they wrote the letters,
trying to get us to pay up.
Especially people like me who,
well, forgot more than once.

The person I was speaking to,
said they’re called the ‘Nudge Unit.’
You know, they kind of
give you a nudge
if you don’t pay things.
Saves the government millions.
Apparently, they text people who
don’t pay court fines.
Works better than a letter . . .
Well, it worked on me.
I’m not breaking the law now . . .

© Cath Davies 2015

Cath Davies lives and writes in North Wales. She has worked in social care for many years. Currently, she is currently studying creative writing at degree level at the Open College of the Arts where she has been a student since 2008.