Two Wonky Wheels

I grew up on a council estate in a deprived area. We didn’t have much, but we were happy, and we made the best of what we had. I had a wonky old bike which I thought was the business! It inspired me to write this spoken word poem.

Two Wonky Wheels

Two wonky wheels,
clattering over dirty pavements.
Muck covered, muck covered.
Grimy hands,
grimy knees,
grimy faces,
market clothes,
kids in droves,
snotty nose,
Ken Loach prose,
playing on the council close
with their car boot sale toys.

Two wonky wheels.
Buckled like my affluence as a kid.
Fags in the gutter, fags in the gutter.
But I didn’t give a shit.
What you don’t know,
isn’t in the conscious show.
We weren’t fancy.
But the wheels kept turning,
the kids kept learning,
the loans kept sharking,
and I wasn’t yearning,
for a life I didn’t know.

Two wonky wheels,
and no iPads, no iPads;
no posing lads
on Instagram.
No girls with fancy iPhones,
no parents taking extortionate loans
for their little darlings’ Xmas.
No Facebook,
no Instagram,
no Twitter,
no Tik Tok;
no screen time ending
when the clock
said two hours up,
now knock it off,
or I’ll ban it.

Two wonky wheels,
and we fought over marbles;
Action man, Action man;
Kiss chase AND –
the odd fumble behind the
derelict land
on the building site.
Giz a fag,
don’t tell yer ma,
have a polo
you nicked from the spa;
you came in when the streetlights
danced with the stars
and you travelled by foot
and not by car,
for your parents weren’t
minted.

Two wonky wheels,
two tired legs.
Oily ankles, oily ankles;
Didn’t matter to me
that my street was the dregs
of my council estate.
Cos we were content.
All the comics I lent,
all the cops who were bent,
all the errands I was sent
for my parents;
twenty Benson and Hedges
and a bottle of pop
to keep the kids happy.

And we WERE happy.

Sarah Drury

Care in the Community

In 1986, the UK started the countrywide closure of the mental asylums, which housed over 100,000 patients, who were moved into the community. It was a noble act but very difficult for many of the former patients, who had to live amidst prejudice and ridicule. They were often treated with fear and suspicion by others, and ostracised from the rest of society. My great grandma was one of these people, and she found it very hard to leave as she had become institutionalised. This poem is looking through her eyes…

They shut down all the asylums,
din’t they.
Lofty, archaic ceilings,
echoing cries
of institutionalise.
Faceless Freud-styled fodder,
clothed in layers of regulation.

Pluck out my eyes so
I no longer see
the haunting corpse
of a ghost of a spectre
of a prison.
That crushed me
in fists of banal sterility.

They shut down all the asylums,
din’t they.
They kicked us onto streets.
Into people,
into mocking,
into laughter,
into ridicule,
loonies, nutters, crazies.
And we don’t know where we live anymore,
us half-breeds.
Walking around in polyester frocks,
yet floating in visions of hospital smocks
and medication time.

Care in the community,
they call it.
Well, it’s shit.
Cos the community don’t care,
and us crazies don’t care,
and we try to get by,
and the people stare,
and they call us freaks
and they whittle away
at our fragile egos,
crushed, broken and weak.
Like discarded eggshells
not Faberge.

They shut down all the asylums,
din’t they.
Freedom should taste like haute cuisine.
But when you’ve learned to live
within a bubble of lithium, valium, Ativan,
something’s got to give.
Imperfection is perfection
in a kingdom where the crazy rule.
But step beyond the lock and key,
to the world where
the weak and troubled fall,

and people cannot help
their ignorance.
For dig to the bottom of
their cruel-school bones,
as you learn to dance
to the ridicule
and you put your face on the joker
of every card you’re dealt.
For the laughs are at you
not with you;
Cheap and how the hyenas choke on
their resonant, acid tongues.

But I live in this half-way world;
my legacy is a white walled asylum
and I hear that my penance
thrives on my fear.
Hail Mary,
hear my prayer.

They shut down all the asylums,
dint they.
The lies they told
with their penny pinching lips.
They told us it was progress.
And they told us it
was freedom.
And I sit here in my prison.
Of fear.

Sarah Drury

Six Weeks

It’s the six week school holidays here in the UK. I know the kids have been off school for months, but this is what it is usually like where I live. I don’t live in a fancy area. People round here don’t have much money, but they make the best of what they’ve got.

Six Weeks

And the panic sets in.
Six weeks.
No school.
No routine.
No rules.
Kids decorating public spaces.
Grown ups fighting
over seaside parking spaces.
Fists flying in fury.
Mums antagonised,
dads are lairy.
Kids are weary,
praying to the toilet fairy.

Making ends meet.
Poor kids playing out on the street.
Bit of Kerby,
game of footy.
Pulling scabs off knees
and
grans whose eyes can’t see
who broke their bloody window.
Finding 50p on the floor,
wanting an ice-cream
but needing 50p more.
But yer mum’s a tight cow.

Nice kids might get summer breaks
in Mallorca or Ibiza.
That kid from the posh estate that
thinks you are beneath her.
She might wear fancy trainers
and her hairstyle might be neater
but you have your freedom.
You have your street cred.

Mum doesn’t care
if you’re on your Xbox every day.
She’s given up trying to
get you off your arse to play
with the rat pack,
who own the streets.
With their knock off phones,
and their reproduction Dr Beats
headphones.

Beans on toast again today.
No fancy dinners this six weeks,
no free school meals for the holiday.
But burgers are fine,
and chips are fine,
and pizza is fine,
and sausages are fine.
And if they’re lucky,
mum will buy choc ices
from Iceland.

Teenagers loitering in shady spots.
Girls slobbering over which boy’s hot
whilst boys parade their sexual prowess.
Who’s shagged who,
which girls are sluts who
don’t care less.
And there’re the strong and the weak.
And the bullies rule the hierarchy.
And the meek and the weak,
and the quiet and the timid seek
refuge.

We live on social media
in these days of no routine.
Posting pics of our little lives
and checking if you’ve seen
and liked
that pic of our imaginary happiness.
Likes are love but
self esteem and ego rest
on the ultimate test
of those little love hearts
and smiley emojis.

It’s six weeks.
Six weeks.
Six bleeding weeks!
Mantra: I AM STRONG

Sarah Drury

Ava

Twenty stone of unadulterated Goddess
Bones embellished with beauty
Heart as full as a cherry blossom in Spring
Each cascading petal the lips of
Venus planting kisses on the weary
and troubled
Compassion is her gift that’s doubled
within her sacred soul

Ava went to the pool one day
Gracious, bountiful stature
Ignorance cruising to bruise her
Modest, mindful, marvellous,
Measly, mocking men, miserable males
making misogynist mallarky
Ava, in her infinite wisdom
whispers
‘I am what I am’

‘She’s fat, she’s farmyard fodder
Hairy legs disgust me
Stomach like a pregnant whale
Who would woo a whore
while wishing for
a wanton wank
Never seen as ugly
and her armpits stank
Ava, in her infinite wisdom
whispers
‘I am what I am’

Men being fools, being stupid
Flirting with the girls, playing cupid
Stupid is what stupid does its true
Diving in, showing off
Haven’t got a clue
Till tragedy struck
Man hits head and oh fuck
What do we do, what do we do?

Ava could have turned a blind eye
She could have looked up to the sky
and said karma, you get what you give
You mess up, you die
You spend your days in states of grace
You flow, you live
Ava, in her infinite wisdom
whispers
‘I am what I am’

Twenty stone of goddess
Her mermaid tale she wears
Forgetting the taunts and the cruelty
Saving souls she smoothly sails
In sanguine stars of shining saviours
Man finds breath of life within
this once monstrosity
And she stands there
Shining like a lighthouse
in a sea of misogynists
Ava
in her infinite wisdom
whispers
‘I am what I am’

This smattering of
shit on the sole of her sanctity
Their scathing tongues
are scarred with silence
In their mocking eyes
cataracts of prejudice are stripped
with non-judgmental fingers
Their taunts and wicked words
should linger
But
Ava’s words
echo in whispering mantras
‘I am what I am’

©2020 Sarah Drury

Black

It was a black day
and it was a BLACK day
I, the newly widowed
clothed in blackbird feathers
Shining like a mirror
reflecting fallacies
not faces
Swathes of blackish sorrow
consumed my
eiderdown of grief
Whilst collective tears
pooling
at my crushed stiletto feet
like seas of emotional
effluent
How many truly cry
when others
snivel in consolation?

*

Coffins muffle the
sonority of
grieving mouths
Damping down the
exaggerated pulse of
blood red hearts
Barriers to paradise lost
remind the dead
not to breathe
For death is
breath without lungs
and mortality is life
without living

*

We didn’t have a church
for you would turn
in your fire-ash not-grave
Phoenix smiting from
the flames
the Godly fallacy
Singing godless psalms
of Elbow
and Eva Cassidy
I wished I’d listened
to your heart
for the reggae in your soul
I painted on my face
of have no feelings
Cherry lips set in
a rigor mortis pout
Spider eyes kept dry by
waterproof mascara
Emotion
Emotion
Emotion
Less

*

And my love is
ash
I am married to
a brown plastic urn
And the wedding rings
don’t fit anymore
Me with my
disconsolate finger
You with your hands
busy playing harps
in Heaven

©2020 Sarah Drury