Sunday, 31 May 2015

Scrap Heap Austerity Blues

Austerity, you got me down, 
you got me on the floor:
no rainbows shining through my storms, 
no buds or flowers any more.
Not much money in my wallet;
I got little cause to smile;
got a lot of cause to worry though;
got debts that stretch for miles.
Got my children going hungry,
got my landlord getting mean;
got no way of moving forward;
got a bunch of broken dreams.
Got no man to rub my shoulders
or to wake me with a kiss;
got no faith in prayers or fairy tales;
seems life goes on and on like this:
buying cheap and counting coppers
so as not to break that ten pound note;
thinking always who needs uniform,
who’s outgrown their winter coat;
who has a birthday looming,
who has wrecked their good school shoes?
It’s no wonder how I cry at nights
when all I got to lose

is those going-downhill-and-run-down,
can’t-stop-my-crying, feels-like-I’m-dying.
who-would-be-a-single-mother blues.

Austerity, you got me, too.
Just can’t seem to get ahead.
I’m young. I should be full of life.
but I am full of fear instead:
afraid they’ll stop my money
if I don’t go here or show up there;
afraid I’ll never find a job,
or get a flat, have cash to spare.
I did everything they told me:
went to college - and I tried my best;
but now it seems they lied to me;
my CV don’t impress.
Now they give me ‘work experience’
when what I need’s a chance:
a chance to work for proper pay,
a chance to play, a chance to dance.
Coz Mr C, you see, I’m young;
I got the legs, I got the shoes;
aint got no opportunity –
and me, well I don’t get to choose.
Coz, well, you guys get the choices
while the likes of us we lose.

We got those no-dough-oh-no
what’s-the-point-of-growing-up blues.

And, Austerity, you’ve done for me.
I’ve got a disability.
My life’s been hard enough without
the extra stress you’ve given me.
I didn’t choose to be this way
and, whatever you might like to think,
your targets are unethical;
and your methods simply stink.
Austerity, you’ve dragged me down
so low some days I don’t get dressed.
I know I should; sometimes I try;
but, mostly, I am too depressed.
These days, you see, I can’t get out
(and I do so miss my little car)
my Care Plan doesn’t care at all
but they say that’s just the way things are.
Austerity, I’m on my knees
with precious little left to lose.
If I could walk a mile I’d say
you should walk a long mile in my shoes.
But, as things are, all I can say
is, when the Great Assessment’s made,
I hope you get what you deserve
and you are left alone, afraid,
to feel the utter hopelessness
that weighs like a monstrous stone
and to try to live as best you can
until the final trumpet’s blown.
Because, then you’ll see, Austerity,
what it is to have nothing to lose

except those low-down-don’t-forget-me,
scrap-heap, austerity blues.

Abigail Wyatt, May, 2015

Friday, 29 May 2015

Coming Soon

Late night TV on the BBC,
more scary than the latest horror movie:
three shiny presenters, glib, well-fed,
none of them much over thirty,
exchange smart remarks
and laugh and laugh
to think that people might die.

But wait. It's ok.
These are not real people.
They are only, after all, 'the elderly';
they are not, what is more,
the elderly well-off
but the sad and shambling poor.
'If they die,' so goes the argument,
'that's a good thing, isn't it?
It will help us solve the problem
of their pensions.'
'There are too many of them.'
More high-pitched laughter.
Laugh? I could have
laughed till I cried.

I did cry this morning.
It weighed all through the night,
this wondering what end might await me:
to be 'passed over', not to be treated
in favour of the young and the fit;
of course, lightly sedated,
I might simply slip away
just a kiss in the pale crook of my elbow.
No pain, perhaps, but not to be mourned,
no evil-smelling, difficult good-byes.

You are never old inside,
my grandmother said;
and she lived to be cosseted and wept for.
Surely, I have given as much

and yet  it's all such a laugh.

Abigail Wyatt

Monday, 25 May 2015


In his Wolf Hall, Hugh d’Avranches is brooding,
Leaning upon his rough-hewn window sill.
From his tower, his stronghold, stranglehold,
He surveys his newly won domain.
The motte and bailey rear up proud
Out of the soft land like a fist.
The mound of bare earth is red as blood;
Ah, but this Welsh hill was won hard enough.
The peasant farmers spilled their guts in vain.
The magpies are still feeding, he notices.
Entrails smeared down the sides of the hill
Where the fair flowers of spring were trampled
By war horse and mailed feet.
He shifts his gaze to the hazy horizon.
These are his lands. His.
Centuries of certain dominion unfurl before him,
Dominance built in stone and glass arise.
The coffers overflow, replenished by that lovely stream
Of taxes, levied upon the poor.
His kind will divide and rule,
Setting communities against each other,
Suspicious of the immigrant, the vagrant and the rebel.
Finally, as vanquished bow their knees and heads,
He sees how his superior race
Will lord over serfs, the sick, the poor.
But today there will be hunting a-plenty,
Crops in those fair fields already
Hoarded for his hall.
After all, the villages have less mouths to feed now.
Yet hungrier still is the heart of Hugh.
He knows what they call him,
“Hugh Le Gros”, grown fat on conquest.
His banner borne before him in procession
To cathedrals built to keep this land
Under the Norman heel,
Proclaiming God, Freedom and the Law,
Conserving the Rights of the noble ones.
The silver wolf, its mouth agape,
Is argent on azure.
He grins, seeing instead
A bloody Wolf’s Head, gore and gold.

© Lisa Rossetti 2015

Friday, 22 May 2015

Now I'm 64 (sing along, folks...)

(taken from David Cameron's got no heart club band)

Now I am older and done my fair share
Worked over forty years back from now
You still want to send me back to work again
Nil hours contract, from eight till ten.
I'll still be working past sixty three
Because you locked the door
I had no prevention, you took all my pension,
And you still want more.

You'll be older too
And in a few simple words
I blame it all on you

It would be better, employing the youth
They need things to do
I have worked for decades and you treat me like
I'm a pin, and out in a strike
It is so cold now, food is all gone now
And you still want more
I had no prevention, you took all my pension,
And you still want more.

Every day you stand and shout about austerity
Still you take from me
Who has scrimped and saved
I won't let you send me
To an early grave

You've had it all now, all but my pride
Though I am standing, still.
I will rise against you every single day
Despite your preference that I waste away
I wish you'd listen, and sad you are blind
I expected so much more
For you to hear me, for you to see me
And a million more

But NO!

Marie Antoinette, May, 2015

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Staring at Austerity

I switch on my phone.
'The Black Triangle List',
a film by disabled
Vince Laws,
and film-maker
Andrew Day,
comes up and I select.
On a black screen,
white words
begin to scroll down.

The film is silent.
A memorial,
that, I am warned,
may upset me.
I begin to read.
People who have died
within 6 weeks
of losing benefits:
10,200 . . .
I concentrate in horror.
Black Triangle’s
ongoing list
from media reports:
100 and rising . . .

Then the list.
Details of austerity-
related deaths.
A man, 53.
Blind and agoraphobic.
Atos found him
Fit for Work.
He took his own life.
A woman, 51.
Breast cancer.
Atos found her
Fit for Work.
She died a few weeks later.
The stories mount.
I feel anger rise.
Where the hell
was duty of care?
In my ears, each
life speaks in the deep
silence of the film.

I watch to the end.
The website addresses
for Black Triangle,
(the Disability
and the Samaritans,
are the final frames.
Then a last paragraph,
‘It doesn’t have to be like this . . .’
I repeat the words.
The whisper feels
like it’s gone
around the world;
when it comes back,
somebody has
challenged Austerity.

Cath Davies, May, 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. 

Sunday, 17 May 2015

A Lullaby for Our Troubled Times

(originally written as a response to the riots in Greece, February, 2012)

Hush a bye baby,
in the cradle of democracy:
when the wind blows
the cradle will quake.
Hush a bye, hush a bye;
though Daddy croons a lullaby;
when the bough bends,
it’ll shake us awake.

Hush a bye baby,
we’re living with plutocracy:
capital is cool, and all
the rich are on the make.
Hush a bye, hush a bye:
we close our eyes and let it lie.
When the bough falls,
will we see our mistake?

Abigail Wyatt

Friday, 15 May 2015

Another World Is Possible

Another word is possible. 
This is what my heart insists.
It's possible to learn, to grow, 
to rediscover chances missed;
but it’s not by war or weaponry 
our future will be won:
a loving kindness serves us more
than missiles, armies, bombs and guns.
It’s suspicion undermines us; 
and our folly, and our greed;
our vices feed those fears that grow 
to shroud the light we need
to bud and bloom and show ourselves 
in all our lovely grace
and so live well, in harmony, 
in justice, and in peace.
Now our madness overtakes us;
we are beggars, we are thieves;
and, powerful or powerless
we share the same disease:
a corporate greed oppresses us 
and woos us with its honeyed lies.
Another world is possible – 
so wake, and shine – and rise.

Abigail Wyatt


Get out of the red and into the black.

Black? The dead minds of those who will not listen to the voice of those who have given everything.

Red? The blood of those who gave everything for the dead minds to destroy.

Marie Antoinette

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Poor Tom’s A-cold

Where do you sleep at night?I asked him.
He looked so tired. With his
Blond beard, blue eyes (good teeth),
He could have been a young crusader
In his stony niche,
Huddled in a sleeping bag cloak.
His boots were in good shape.
In the Roodee car park mostly, he said
It’s drier under the cars.
What happened to you, Tom?
He talks of a break-up with his girlfriend,
Loss of his job and flat.
I had a car once, he tells me.
Four months sanction means
He will be living rough through the bitter winter months.
“Regrettably there are reduced places for the homeless due to cuts.”
I fetch him a pastry from the Tesco Express.
Come Christmas though, the Hospice will give me a hot meal,
And a shower; I do want my dignity.
I told him, I’ll come back.
But he was gone, moved on
By the police with new instructions:
“No homeless to be seen in the city centre.”

We are proud of our historical city, and
Its many tourist attractions:
Our wonderful heritage.

Lisa Rossetti

May 2015

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

'Song of the Food Bank'

Pasta. Always pasta.
Nothing wrong
with it, of course,
especially the brown stuff -
a nice bit of sauce
and it's always tasty.
(Someone else can put in
the mix-in tomato sauce.)
It's good for the gut,
filling for the kids;
and you only need one ring
and a saucepan.
That's what makes it
a good choice, you see -
because, well, you don't know
the exact kind of places
where some of these
people have to live.

But, then, what about
the little luxuries, you might say:
a decent cup of coffee
for those bleak and chilly mornings,
hot chocolate, coco pops,
a nice a bit of
iced chocolate cake?
By and large, you won't see
much of these -
expect perhaps at Easter,
and at Christmas.
The cycles of the year
are marked by our giving
just that eensy weensy
little bit more.

Next time you pass by
a food bank collection point
have a look and see
what we're offering.
What are we saying
about what we think
our neighbours deserve?
I am ashamed now to think
that there are women wearing rags,
as my grandmother did
and her mother.
What kind of kingdom
have we made
where mothers bleed
to feed their children
while the incoming kings
drink champagne?

Abigail Wyatt

Monday, 11 May 2015

‘The Clean-Up Stage’

(a response to some remarks made recently on Facebook)

The 'clean-up stage' was how she described it.
She could not know how my mouth had fallen open.
I saw again the cattle trucks pull in at the station,
anxious fingers groping towards freedom,
heard, renewed and re-doubled, the desperate pleas
of those people left to swelter in the sunshine
or else to hack at icicles for water even as they waited to freeze.
She did not deny that some sick people had suffered
but she knew it would be 'ironed out' in the long run.
She believed, she told me, that the government
wanted to 'make things better for us all';
their policies were not only well-intended
but bound to prove successful in the end.
She went on to say that ‘healthy people’
should be ‘helped’ to ‘get out to work’.
At the risk of being seen to ‘moan’, I said I didn’t agree.
What of those people who have already died,
and those whose lives were blighted by ATOS?
When she turns her gaze on the one percent,
I wonder what kind of social justice she sees, or thinks she sees.
And then again I wonder: what is their true objective?
Should I look forwards, or backwards through history
to pick out the outline of the smoke-stacks of their dreams?
Isn’t what she calls the 'clean-up stage' only
the start of an ongoing process
by which they will lead us by the nose
and then crush by slow degrees?

And am I now an 'agitator’ as some have lately suggested,
part of ‘the scum’, the ‘skivers’ and ‘dregs’,
those who have chosen not to work?
So, must I make my bed among the ‘rioters’ and ‘rabble rousers’.
those who are now deemed ‘disgusting’,
the ‘benefit fraudsters’ whom ‘we’ have been ‘feeding’,
and now, or so I have heard it said, like rats
‘come creeping’ from their ‘holes’?
Though I was not with them, I would have been with them;
my heart went with them most freely;
now, as the dust begins to settle,
just as freely I choose my ground:

I stand up for freedom, right thinking, and right feeling;
for justice duly tempered by compassion;
I side with the poor, who must remember they are many,
against the rich and the greedy, who are few.