Category Archives: poetry

A caring, sensitive man

Now the thing about caring and sensitive men
– I find them quite bad for my health –
He’ll be perfectly lovely on dates 1 to 10,
But that will have all changed by the 12th.
It’s a pattern I’ve witnessed again and again,
Like so many nice, sensitive, caring men,
He is at his most caring and sensitive when
He is caring about himself.

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Ownership


I’ve been inspired and thinking a lot about ownership, particularly inspired by the discussions about copyright/copy left and intellectual property at Open CuRate It ‘Who Owns It?’ session. I was going to write a blog post but it was all too complicated so somehow turned into a poem.  Something else then happened that threw my thinking about property and ownership into pretty sharp relief. I ended up with three poems.

Mine

A thing I found
beneath the ground;
Someone I paid
gave me to trade;
a leaf, a tree,
that once was free,
a farmer grew
to blend or brew.
It’s grand,
well-planned,
this piece of land,
but please be careful
where you stand.

A wave, a line,
a cool design,
a beat, a rhyme,
arbitrary signs,
used time after time,
enriched, combined,
that’s how,
we find,
meaning’s refined.
My dear,
it’s such a neat idea,
but guard it near
for your career.

Covet, collect
a rare insect;
I promise to protect.
Who could object?
A ring around
a finger: tied & bound.
Love and care
are not to share.

My mum, my Dad,
first objects I had.
Lucky me:
heredity.
They made me
possessively,
I’m their IP.

Theirs

They’re on the make, it’s there to take
When having some means getting more
on top of what they had before

So kindly lent (he’s such a gent)
you can’t protest the interest.

Without, bereft
All property is – well,
you know the deftly worded
Left position on this question
(I’m glad I got that off my chest).

Yours

An old machine,
a missing key,
a damaged screen.
Given to me:
I was lucky
Its memory,
my history:
old photographs,
abandoned drafts
I even feel affinity
with its exhausted battery.
But I forgot to close the doors
and now it’s yours.

Scars

In which I found work and lost it again

I have recently experienced a spell of employment, which is now over. I have also run out of money.

I  am not going to blog about the work, mainly because I am not an idiot and the agency made me sign a thing saying I wouldn’t. All I really want to say is that I had thought my standards were quite low, but it turns out my tolerance for tedious routine work is not as high as I had thought (or as it used to be). My mum was delighted I had a job, any job, and, exasperatingly wanted me to be happy to experience ‘the dignity of work’. Conversely, I found it useful, politically, to experience first-hand the indignity of precarious, poorly paid, repetitive process work. The mechanisms of control, close monitoring, scrutiny, divide and rule tactics, the humiliating rituals, the dismal surroundings of the ‘technology park’, the terrible coffee. Not to mention the casual routine sexism (and other forms of hate) of the workplace.

The experience, like many I have had since giving up my job and moving to Liverpool, has forced me to face up to my privilege.  I can’t honestly describe myself as poor. I have some of what might be called social and cultural capital, more than enough material possessions and friends and parents who would not let me starve. I am able to come away feeling confidently ‘I’m too good for this work’ and hope, eventually, I will find something less shit. Some of my colleagues were more upset and worried than me about their return to unemployment, and did not deserve to be kicked out, and I feel outraged, and guilty about this unfairness.

But I have also been forced to realise the limits of my privilege, as I have actually run out of money. It’s not really surprising, but the rational knowledge that it would happen soon has not prepared me for the feeling. I feel guilt, for being so spoiled, but also know that many of the ways of making my life more enjoyable cost money.

So, back to the applications, back (more assertively this time) to the dole office.

In the meantime, I wrote two poems about the experience.

The Sack (For Jack)

End of contract
Don’t come back
There it is in black and white
there it is there’s no use fighting it
Some of the others were hit with grief
I just feel a big relief.

Injustice 

The naughty kids were taken in
and told the bad news one by one,
but when she came for Liam
we all wondered ‘what’s he done?’

When we were chatting about cake,
it was Liam who got told off;
the others were not picked on,
but then, we’re not from Toxteth.

I know that when we’re unemployed
I’ll stay in bed ’til three,
but in his orange swimming kit,
he’ll swim in Wavertree.