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

Big Enough

I have searched the world for answers
Hurled my soul through
stratospheres of
God is this
and God is that
Jesus the perfect
on his right hand sat
And I ate up all the questions
and spat out all the dogma
Tasting the tang
of mental health stigma
masticated into morsels of
bite sized cosmos

And I ask the heavens
“Am I good enough for God?”
Should I worship at the altar
of the footsteps Buddha trod?
I’ve prayed for acceptance
For all my life
I’ve yelled to the deities
I’ve battled through
rough pain and strife
Lunatic, heretic, mother, wife
Is the universe having a laugh?
It’s slaughtered my dignity
with a hellfire-blade knife
and I hang on with a tiny glimmer
of hope

I’ve knelt down on one knee
to the Goddess of the moon
Pleaded to the archangels
Asked if my repentance
would be respected soon
Sung hymns to
a maverick’s tune
Praised and praised and praised
And meditated for days
Heart in a coma, head in a daze
Swallowed esoteric words
Which the new agers say
will lead to my enlightenment

I’ve laid on beds of crystals
Had hands lay upon my chest
Glorified the power of chakras
Searched the aura for the best
jewel in my spirit
I’ve eaten spiritual books
I’ve put God to the test
Cleansed my tainted soul
Burned the candles
Sacrificed love lest…
I meet my soulmate

And I ask myself
Am I good enough for God
As I cut myself down
And throw off my crown
And I meditate
And my heart creates
And the universe then satiates
And I hear a voice
A tiny voice inside my head
At first I couldn’t make out
the venerated words it said
But the universe spoke
and my full heart heard
And I knew it was God
who spoke the words

“Am I big enough for YOU?!”

©2020 Sarah Drury

Inhale

I have been embracing my spirituality lately and it feel so good. I love the Buddhist teachings but also love astrology, oracle cards, and Western and Eastern philosophy, so am a bit of a spiritual whore! I meditate every day and am already reaping the benefits.

I’m cultivating a lotus
from within

Inhale, Exhale
Each breath shapes
a sigh of a promise
A birthing phenomenon
grips my throat
like fingers around a
pessimist’s neck
Squeezing the negativity
like some kind of cosmic toothpaste

Oxygen tangoes pirouette on the tongues
of the would be Buddhas
Leaving behind the
hate and the frustrate
and the wicked glimmers of
acid lipped negative
Psalms and hallelujahs
ring out to Jesus
Whilst the mantras of monks
whisper to miracle of enlightenment

Each mindful moment
dissolving on my mind
Teasing on the point
of nothingness
Looking between the silence
to find…the serenity
seeping into my sanguine senses
To suffer is to die
Whilst to live in peace
is as empty as infinity
With a compassion fuelled heart
and a mind as awake
as a songbird singing sonnets
in a summer dawn

My life is a pavement
My heart is a flower
Seeking solace between the cracks
and refuge in my inner power

Existence is a privilege
we often denigrate
With our pills and our knives
And our poison dart words
echoing in chasms of dissonance
And now I must regenerate
integrate
embrace

Miracles can shine through
the darkest twilights
Each point of consciousness
a birthing star
Each glimmer has a home in faith
My consciousness can reach as far…
as eternity

I’m cultivating a lotus from within

Inhale, exhale
The shoulds and coulds
shout their moralistic monologues
holding me hostage
at the tip of a therapist’s theorem
My contradicted spirit
I did, but I didn’t
I can, but I can’t
It is, but it isn’t
And I’m doing my best
to assimilate the notion
That meditation can
spring into motion
transformation

And I am a thoughtless thought
Drowning in a spiritual thirst
My darkness a candle that’s flickering and dying
My light a torch setting fire to the world

I’m cultivating a lotus within
Inhale, Exhale
I am
the stillness
within

©2020 Sarah Drury

Pride

PRIDE

When I was a child
girls stole sugar kisses on boys’ muddy lips
Champagne toasts to wedded men and women
My friends all had mothers and fathers
even if they didn’t know them
My storybooks were full of handsome princes
kissing apple-lipped maidens
Pages after pages were bullshit laden
And the TV was full of girls with boys
and happy-ever-after heterosexuality
And that was the myth of sexuality
Back in the day

We hurled around ‘insults’ that our mates were lesbos
And the lads were gay
But we didn’t realise we were buying into
a system of bitter prejudice and discrimination
Witch hunts, gay shaming and condemnation
and I never thought that one day
I would be ‘them’

We never saw two female lips entwined in a loving kiss
or two males in a passionate embrace
Now it is still a spectacle
consigned to its own sordid category
a ‘perverted disgrace’
The older generation still hushly whisper
‘ooo he’s gay you know’ and oppose the notion
of gay adoption and media exposure
God forbid the media give their viewing a promotion
They still feel queasy to the stomach
when they see that love is not just
boy meets girl

I am glad we now live in a generation where
love is becoming less monochrome
Where the lgbt community can live a life less secluded and alone
And rainbows fill a sky of potential
for love and acceptance to prosper
Gay is becoming more mainstream
And we don’t cower ashamedly in molehills anymore

So why do I live life in a masquerade ball?
Partially disguised
Why so long to free myself from my trap of conventionality?
For the sake of convention and congeniality
I was caught up for years in the boy-girl story
Of the prince and princess happy ever after
Now I am awake and still feel the stigma
The sting of years of expectation
Like a queen in a PRIDE parade
Saying fuck you to the hetero charade
and wearing my mask
when I truly want to be
exposed and naked

©2020 Sarah Drury