Single Mum

I know I am
your single mum.
Your friends have
dads and you tell me
often, that
you feel like
a stranger in your
own social circle.
It must be hard to
be a leper in
a land of dual
parenting,
and paternal genetics.
Happy, wholesome
smiling family snaps,
when you live in
a testosterone
depleted zone.

It wasn’t always
faux joy selfies,
just the two of us.
Conquering the world
with our Colgate smiles
and mum-son
bonding.
Looking like
the world was made
for just us two,
and fleeting glimpses
cannot magic
fathers’ faces
on iPhone imagery.

I am not in
the land of
mice nor men.
If I could conjure up
the ideal role model,
I would paint your
life with
gentle men and
honest souls
and the heart of
a saintly martyr.
Knights fighting fearsome
dragons and
brave soldiers
(camouflaged anxiety)
dedicating their lives
to an ethical cause.

I cannot raise
fathers from the dead.
It is hard enough to
keep memories alive
when they are stored
deep within my mind,
and not yours.
But one day you
will understand that
once upon a time,
there were three
of us.
Not this brave
little duet.

Sarah Drury 2021

Mike Leigh

Mike Leigh
on TV again.
Real people with
real lives.
Devoted husbands,
unemployed,
brewing tea
for working class wives.

The air is dark,
darker, darkest,
coaxing thinner, thinnest, thick.
Undercurrents
swimming like
revelations from an
emotionless brick.
Rich in mundane complexity.
Painting simplest simplicity slick,

with connotation.
Rare to see a
privileged education,
rattling amongst the
state school accents.
Real people,
real lives.
Car crash fortunes,
Scripted accidents.

Mike Leigh
on TV
again.
Real people with
real lives.
Living for the
in your face
realism.
Peddling pain
with the blades
of blunt knives.

Real people.
Real lives.

Sarah Drury. 2021

Ice Maiden

(Original art by Sarah Drury)

I’ve been here too long.
Sitting in this barren kingdom.
Breath exhaling, moist to crystalline,
and my lungs cascade.
Plumes of a pulmonary, lovesick swan.
Both yearning for a mate.
This colourless existence
bleaches our beauty.
The whiteness,
oh, the whiteness,
is killing me.

They say I have a frosty heart.
Icy, gliding frozen tears
like winter butter
across the surface of an artic lake.
And I taste like tender Eskimos
as I glaciate myself in igloos
and my door becomes a sheet of ice.

It’s been so long
since you held me in furnace arms,
my love.
I always dreamt of happy ever afters.
Never thought the crows of death would stalk me,
and I’m choking on black feathers.

I’ve tried, my love, I’ve tried.
Till my eyes were the glistening moon
and the sun dare not even
speak your name.
I’ve played the sorry widow.
Years floundering in the memory of us.
It was not just your death.
I died too.
The glacial landscape beckoned me.
Frozen teardrops my rendezvous,
and the ice-maiden took me
as her own.

Sarah Drury 2020

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