Thursday, 17 October 2013

How we used to live.

"Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings.
And overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life.
While poverty persists, there is no true freedom" Nelson Mandela
100 year old photo of destitute children.
 Last night I looked back at a poem I wrote when I was sixteen that I have always managed to keep. It was part of my coursework for C.S.E English. It was 1986. Thatcher time. Bleak times with no hope of a job. Secondary school had been an exercise in learning how to waste time and stay quiet punctuated by numerous teacher's strikes. I was fortunate enough that I had been taught to read and write by an elderly neighbour and to have received a good primary school education, as after that I learned little more in school. My secondary school was so bad my C.S.E. English teacher hadn't even realised I was able to read. I have always thought it was relevant that in comprehensive school, history lessons teach how the peasants lived (so think yourself lucky!). Conversely, public school students are taught that they are a Roman centurion and "Today you will command an army".

"I think my future is ­going to have loads of bad things in it.’ Photo: The Guardian. 2012.
The apathy I felt then is seeping in again with the current political climate here in the UK. What is the point of poetry when the uncertainty of life is pressing it's bristly back up against me and my family. The point is it can be a testament and a measure. A moment held fast as our lives forge on relentless to who knows where. The internet has given a voice to ordinary people. If we want to find an answer to why people stay in impoverished situations we should look to the psychology of the abused staying with their abuser. I do hope I live to see a solution. Everybody deserves a house with a garden.

No art today, but here are some words. I was a goth, I was a teenager, forgive me... I can't help but notice that history is repeating itself.

Waste People Basket

Overflowing apple cores,
Balancing precariously.
Crumpled papers lying useless,
Orange peel wastes away.

Nobodies slithering in the debris,
Ignored and kicked to the side.
Used up by the world, no reward.
Mouldy misfits quietly die.

Mishap teeters at the edge,
Accumulation of last straws.
Discarded litter rustles in fury.
Rage explodes all up the walls.

Scrape remains off the wallpaper,
Repeat, make do and mend.
Maggie promises better futures.
Only the chosen win.

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