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

Stacey

My name is Stacey
I am hard as the knuckles
on my father’s hand
When his gold sovereign ring
kisses my lying teeth
With a glint of what he calls
tough love

And his Doc Marten feet
dance on my nail-hard flesh
Painting green and purple
masterpieces with
splashes of red
A canvas of abuse but
he says he loves me
And love is precious

And his eyes cut into
my heart like a surgeon
nonchalantly considers
a newly deceased cadaver
I have to look away
or iron palms will smart
my punch bag cheek
But love is like that

I think my life is tough
But at the end of the day
it’s for my own good
My father says
I’m a fucking little bitch
But he will break me
and make me

But he’s birthed a monster
with his fists of fire
and his hands of hate
and his feet of fury
and his temper of turmeric

I am Stacey
I am hard as the knuckles
on my father’s hand
And I am as broken
as the glass greenhouse
where my father
shouldn’t throw stones

©2020 Sarah Drury

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Skipped

I skip along these scummy streets
Scuff the needles with my Tough girl Doc Martens
Pass the burnt-out Vauxhall Zafira
I’ve lived here a year, I think I’m starting
To blend in with the natives
I’ve perfected the ‘don’t fuck with me’ stare
I walk past the gangs of teens
and put on the act that I don’t care
(and wear my nonchalant face)

I’m used to the tab ends and smidgens of weed
I find in the communal lobby when I’m on my way out
Coke snorting tubes littering the stairwell
Kids smoking joints when the police aren’t about
My son sees the signs and knows all the vocab
I’m trying to tell him that drugs can be lethal
He wanted to know where the dealers live
I tell him that these people are dodgy, be careful
We don’t want our heads kicking in!

I walk the streets taking in the deprivation
when at my feet I find a huge bag of weed
I wonder if a drug runner has dropped it by accident
I consider its value, my bank balance it could feed
I have visions of piles of black-market cash
And takeaways unlimited, new clothes and hairdos
But if the druggies found out I’d purloined their stash
I think of my body splashed over the news
And I get paranoid that some dodgy geezer
is watching me, waiting to kick my head in
So I leave the package where I left it
And let someone else partake in their sin

And I walk along the scummy street
Til I see my safe little council flat
and I think about the stash of dope
and wonder what kind of stupid twat
would drop it
Psychedelic lost property!

©2020 Sarah Drury

Hard Boys

The other night, a big gang of lads were hanging about outside my flats, causing absolute mayhem. Obviously off their heads on drugs and booze, they were shouting and just being crazy. I must admit I was scared, and it triggered a bad anxiety and OCD attack. I ended up going to bed and trying to drown out the noise! Here’s a poem I wrote…

Big boys
Hard boys
Loud boys
Lost boys
Riding the manic high
of your coke
of your dope
of your speed
of your blow
of your weed
I don’t care what you call it
but it makes monsters of your mind
Birthing obnoxious rowdy rebellion
Pissing off the neighbourhood
Like we don’t need sleep
and we haven’t got kids
and we don’t have anxiety disorders

And oh, I was living on my last nerve
Heart all exposed and wrapped in disquietude
Butterflies feasting on my gastrological angst
Head establishing a terrorist situation
Mind lost in OCD
And OCD is telling me
They’re going to get me
They’re going to find me
They’re going to rape me
This won’t end well

Big boys
Hard boys
Loud boys
Lost boys
Probably just having your laughs
And being rebellious teens
And chasing escapism from
Your lives of mundanity and tedium
Bit of coke
Bit of dope
Bit of speed
Bit of blow
Bit of weed
Sorted

Why my anxiety consigns me to Hell
I don’t understand
Threatened by a good time boy bunch
Your laughs slicing my psyche
like feel good knives
with blades sharpened in acid
Maybe I lost my inner child
Maybe she got lost in a maelstrom
of scared and fearful and afraid
The mind knows how
to keep me a prisoner
The mind knows
I lost my childhood

©2020 Sarah Drury