Rent Boy


By Louise M. Hart

He silently sits in a busy underpass

Raggedy man reflecting his soul like glass

“Only the poor give to the poor,” He thinks

A benefit scrounger inserts a pound coin

Between his teeth

And drops it into raggedy man’s hat

He eats empty plates of thoughts for dinner

And dreams of being fat

His heart has no home

Less, his body resides in the West Midlands of nowhere

He does not even own a cat

Called Bob

Man, it is boring here

Where he cannot afford a beer or a filtered cigarette

His brow is lined with the sweat of circumstance and distress

And all because his Mother called him, “a sinner”

He was big in Moseley once

Now he is invisible in an underpass

Wanker banker leaves work at 5.33

He passes Mr Raggedy

And notices the curve of his lips

His hungry brown eyes

And delicate finger tips

He rubs his wallet

For Iain Duncan Smith, Ode to the Death of Another Benefit Scrounger


I read the news, today

Glasgow writer killed

By the hand

That did not feed him

A suicide statistic

Soon to be forgotten

Like the books

He laboured hard to write

Which no one cares to read

 

And sitting outside Wetherspoons

Alongside my companionable

Cigarettes and alcohol

I contemplate

The minister of The State

Who one day

Will withdraw

My disability living allowance

Because I can crawl

More than 2 metres

And write

Bloody awful poetry

 

I am the common word

More Smith

Than Plath

Pretentious enough

To be proud

To be working class

 

And, suddenly, life seems…

…like perpetual misery

And I become the future statistic

I do not want to be

 

Meanwhile…

Occupying his inflaming

Twin towers of ivory

Plated over-privilege

And steely mouthed

Prosthetic political power

The star player

In Cameron’s corrupted cabinet

Of party members

Porn players, all

And secretarial back (side)

Slappers

A stabber

Of the foulest form

Opens his whoring mouth

And laughs

 

Like Lucifer on crack

His Machiavellian throat

Issues sound that even Tony

Bastard bliar, bliar

After dinner speaker tones for hire

Cannot rival

 

Like a converse Jon Snow

Turned to Tory slush

He is the illegitimate

Legitimate product

Of an ideological game

Of thrones

And human slaughter

 

United Kingdom

Lock up your sick and disabled

Sons and daughters

Iain Duncan Smith

Is on the hunt

Pheasant is so last season’s

Prey

New labour’s elected

Sunday lunch

 

Human flesh

Is more appetising

These post-imperialistic

McSalad and fries days

 

With I.D.S. on my mind

I board the bus home

Grateful to still have money

In my pocket

And no student payback loan

 

But when I arrive home

I open the door

And staring back at me

From a crimson mat

Is a letter

Marked

Department of Work and Pensions

 

I take out a blade

And with a frenzied slash

The sullied brown envelop

Bleeds ink

Red as the gash

Adorning my wrist

 

I tear myself to pieces

Then I light a cigarette

Between

Slices

Of my orange peel fingers tips

 

Ode to the death of another

Benefit scrounger

Homage to the demise

Of a seated disco dancer

And an inverted snob

I am not an ism!


Hitherto rejecting the central tenet of postmodernism which professes the demise of metanarratives, my former selves embraced the grandest of narratives. Over the years I have identified as many kinds of “ists” and supported numerous “isms.” Driven by the search for meaning, I regularly argued with eloquence and conviction that it was preferable to follow a belief system than walk the path of nihilistic individualism. I am, now, beginning to rethink my position.
My huge, death defying social conscience has always influenced and, I hope, will continue to influence my attitudes and beliefs about the social whole. However, I have begun to question my sub-conscious motivation for clinging to certain prescribed ideas and ideologies. Subjectivity is lonely when one does not fit-in. Was I imprisoned in a crowd by myself, yielding like-minded others to enter? Was I committed to social change, or merely at an earlier stage of a mission to change within? Maybe I am a bourgeois individualist with thin skin. Whatever the truth and which ever side of me wins, I reject all labels; I am no longer an “ist,” I am LOUISE! Read my words and hear me breath.

A Dual Self


Having been raised in the Christian church, I am burdened by the weight of a conscience, guilt trickling through my veins like blood. Thus, I have lived my life in pursuit of goodness and unachievable absolutes which contradict the fleshy and impure thoughts of my furtive psyche. This sense of duality has defined my adult life and persists in my vacillating moral and political principles. I think I know, then I change my mind.
As a student I found the perfect outlet for my belief in Marxism; I joined student political societies. However, although I was hungry for social change, I never felt fully connected to my comrades and lacked their single-minded drive. For over twenty years, I have remained haunted by a casual remark made by someone, whom I still respect; she said that I was “too subjective.” At the time, I was mildly offended, perceiving myself as weak. In time, however, I realised that I could not be an automaton, dedicating my life to the pursuit of the greater good. I was an individual and if I wanted to improve the world I had to be kinder to myself. Political activism preceded my breakdown of self. Henceforth, I have struggled to re-build my identity. I am, perhaps, more fragile, these days, but I am, also, more knowing.

Stream of a Conscience


There is a fear which haunts all writers and that fear is loss of inspiration. We all experience dry periods in which words, ideas and the construction of plots elude us; our waking hours punctuated by non-productivity and night time by the sweat of non-fulfilment. Over the last few days, I been firing blanks of concepts, refusing to build into a seed of a form embracing a composition, deserving to be heard. I am tired. However, I need to write. Please forgive my stream of consciousness style.
Two days ago I returned from my holiday in Malta. When abroad, I would like to have experienced a touch of the culture of the country I have visited. Unfortunately, on this holiday I learned more about British culture than that of Malta. Initially, piqued by the attitude and demeanour of the non-British staff at hotel where we stayed, as the week evolved I realised that they had been stereotyping us based on their experience of other British holiday makers. I felt embarrassed by the behaviour of my fellow Brits and doubly embarrassed by my own embarrassment. These were people, similar in social and economic background to many of the people who had populated by younger life. I felt not comradeship for these, my working class brothers and sisters but, frustration. Uncomfortable in my own skin, I had behaved exactly as the hotel staff had towards the other British holiday makers, I had stereotyped them. In this instance, as the kind of working class people who would stand not with defiant fists clenched at the boundaries of a picket line but, would push aside honourable strikers and lay with management. When I heard voices raised, from the “English style,” pub next to the hotel, in a chorus of, “There’ll always be an England,” I knew not whether to smile or frown. Stereotyping is reductive and objectionable. We all do it.

Would you get into Bed with a Tory?


It was announced today that, Margaret Thatcher, Lady of the iron heart, had vacated her mortal coil and moved to pastures new. Whether these pastures caress her soul in eternal fire or cleanse her spirit as the purification of redemption, will remain unknown to those left behind; left behind to gather the remains of a country undermined by the politics of selfishness and free market ideology. A country, whose downfall I would trace back to the 1980’s, when she resided as Prime Minister and the devil incarnate. I would like to believe, however, in the existence of divine justice; what goes around, comes around. She who shits on beauty will drown in her own detritus. Thatcher shat on the values I hold dear, her legacy remains in the fragmented Britain of 2013.
Her death could not have been more useful to The State than if the Conservative Party, themselves, had planned it. For, it diverted the country from the much more pressing political issue of today, the introduction of a new welfare benefit to replace Disability Living Allowance. I mentioned benefit cuts in a previous post and their effect upon sick and disabled people; significantly, this was my least viewed post. Disability is not cool or sexy…and neither are politics. Politics, however, determine the nature of social reality, which we all re-produce-even those, like myself, who have denied its existence. Thus, I believe, that we should activate our ability to choose and opt to build a better, more egalitarian State, led by the will of the people and not a political party, which represents bad faith.

Whoops Armageddon! It’s the end of the world, as we know and I feel…


…scared! In accord with pussy-cat law, my faithful companion has woken me at four o’clock in the morning. Outside, the world is the colour of purity, snow illuminating the darkness, like a force of nature in the wake of human transgression disguised as progress. Even the house is shivering cold. Inside, a young, old lady feels older now, than before the snow had fallen. Her cat scratches the door hoping that she will open it; he is innocent of the horrors beyond and the potential hazards of snow. The wind screams in pain, embracing all with persistent lashes of its lustful tongue. There are screaming banshees, out there; I know, for I have seen them…in the eye of my mind, wearing sexy underwear and the pouts of witches. And windows vibrate like the bedevilled soul of Heathcliff caressed by Cathy’s ghostly presence. I imagine the wuthering heights of Kate Bush’s voice and am reassured by my knowledge that bush is enjoyed by nearly all. Currently defining the western world is a crisis of ideas. I think I shall go back to bed and pretend that it is summer.

Lessons Learned


Having completed a regular shift at a charity bookshop, I, now, feel cold and tired. The wind on the west coast of Scotland is a savage beast which can almost knock even the sturdiest of citizens off their feet and bites into the very hearts of our resilience. In the Wintertime, when the pestilence of chill and rain consumes all, but those possessed of fur coats and an iron will, it is easy to let depression strike. I shall resist; when he raises his hand, I will retaliate with blows to the keys of my laptop. I laugh within, when I consider the change in my disposition.
Twenty years wasted as a mental health service-user. Twenty years in which I experienced a side of life many either do, or wish that they did, not understand. These twenty years have taught me many lessons, some of which I would like to share.

1. Medication helps ease the symptoms of mental distress, it does not cure. Uncovering the causes of distress is hard work but, not impossible. Although psychological interventions can be useful for many people, ultimately, one has to want to recover and master the skills of mental independence.
2. Psychiatrists are as fucked-up as the rest of the human race. They have merely learned the skills of presentation.
3. Mental health workers do not REALLY care (they are doing a job, some of them very well) but can be very useful to talk to and fill-in forms!
4. Most day-centres/hospitals operate a policy of containment. They exist to monitor service-users, ensuring that we do not cross those deadly lines of demarcation. In the short-term, they can open-up the possibility of peer support. However, in the long-term, they perpetuate apathy which, is often misinterpreted to be a consequence of negative symptomology.
5. Mental health service users often flock together, like birds with tarnished wings. This is because they are socially excluded. Many have little or no family support and the companionship of friends. They do not deserve your pity or ridicule, their group friendships are indicative of a truly human (and rational) need to counteract loneliness and be accepted.
6. Recovery from mental health issues is a relative concept. If you can see the light at the end of the tunnel, you are doing okay. You do not need to be earn 100,000 a year or train to run a marathon. The book which you have always planned to write, can be written tomorrow, next year or even…never. For, even possessing the wish to write, is suggestive of the will to live. LEARN TO EXIST AND YOU WILL START TO LIVE.

I have been humbled by the support for my blog and would like to thank my followers for reading and commenting. If you have been affected by anything I have written, please contact me. I am available on facebook and twitter or you could simply subscribe to my blog. I intend to write my next post on my novel and invite you all you to learn about its themes and contents.

Systemic Failings: Murder in the Mental Health System


Snot overload! I have a heavy cold and am ever so slightly annoyed…

Headlining last night’s television news was the story of a woman with severe mental health problems who, having previously been detained in a secure unit for the murder of her Mother, had, subsequently, been discharged into the community only to have committed a second murder. Murder is rare, murders committed by people with mental health problems are even rarer.
For me, this story yields two central issues. Firstly, it highlights the inability of the mental health system to meet the needs of those who are unfortunate enough be served by it. Secondly, media coverage of the story (and other similar stories) has led me to consider the effect of negative publicity upon the public’s perception of people affected by mental health issues.
Having presented at a hospital, the aforementioned woman, vocalised her murderous intent. The staff let her leave, without attempting to detain her. Had she been admitted to hospital a murder would have been prevented and the distress of the offender, possibly eased. When sentencing the woman to 37 years of imprisonment, the judge claimed that she was responsible for her own actions. How can someone who so evidently lacked the fundamental mental filter of a conscience, be deemed in possession of reason and therefore, responsible.
Whilst, for many, mental health issues can be a life sentence, they should never lead to death.

For a fictional account of the mental health system. My novella “The General Paralysis of Sanity” (published by Chipmunkapublishing) can, now, be purchased. Although it is not autobiographical, the content has been influenced by my own experiences of the British mental health system.

Cardinal Sins?


Call me a “liberal softy,” for I have been burdened by experiencing a touch of sadness about the plight of Cardinal Keith O’Brien. Replacing my initial outrage by the remarks he made against equal marriage and gay people, is a sense of embarrassment that in 2013, people should be so appalled by his admissions of homosexual practice(?).
I cannot overstate the following: Although I am not a Catholic, I fully support the rights of all people to follow their chosen religious/spiritual paths. However, whist it was in accordance with the doctrine of the Catholic church, for the Cardinal to resign from his post, I believe that all people, regardless of religion, should practice greater empathy towards those who, for multitudinous reasons, feel unable to open their closet doors and proclaim their sexuality to a world, which can be more judgemental than accepting of “difference.”
I am particularly concerned about the welfare of lesbians and gay men whose desire for social acceptance, often leads to self-destructive urges and lifestyles. Suicide rates among gay men in the U.K. are particularly high and homophobia is a factor in substance addiction and the psychological distress of many in the LGBT community.
Whilst social equality seems to all rightful thinking cynics a utopian dream, accepting those whose lifestyles do not correspond with our own is essential, if we are to build a more egalitarian world, based on the model of liberal democracy.