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The Glass Enclosure

My black tongue finds no taste in its smoothness,

And there is nothing to see

Except when the sun, at certain angles,

Flashes and breaks into rainbow patterns.

But there it is all the time,

Marking the distance between us.

The others graze so close sometimes

I hear their rasping breath,

Smell their familiarity in the Pennine air,

See their otherwise vacant eyes questioning.

Other times they range away together

To distant, rocky, limestone slopes,

Whose views I can only imagine,

Their tiny bearing calls riding the thin wind.

Water is brought to me, and fodder too,

For now the grass is near cropped out.

Heavy boots fall certain and muddy

Within the fence I can only push against.

And there it is all the time,

Marking the difference between us.

Last night I dreamt of wandering with the flock

On a high plain far from Yorkshire’s hills.

Jostled in the mythering crowd, I felt content

With the stench of fetid wool and grassy breath.

A lamb was outlined on a nearby crag,

Backlit by rays of an early sun,

Its heartbeat drew us close like a tender drum,

Its fleece of fire

Like gold,

Like burning glass.

December 2006

The Long Voyage

The journey always seems too far,

Across uncertain bays,

With strangers whose faces are hidden,

The sea inseparable from the sky,

Time inconsistent as dreaming.

We hear but do not see or know the circling birds.

In the dark times,

When the best forget how to hope,

And fade away from us,

Moving quickly into the spaces

Like galaxies, faster than light can return,

How will we remember?

We must learn to like ourselves,

For without this we are brittle,

exposed as we cross the open ground,

forced into futile activity

by our autocratic thinking.

We must like ourselves enough to remember everything.

We must like ourselves especially when we fail,

abandoning dreams of rescue,

imagining the cavalry was massacred,

the boat sank, the sentry was a traitor.

We have to go on anyway.

We must know what we did then was the best we could.

We must like ourselves

when we wake up, and when we lie down

drunk beneath the stars, unloved and alone,

We must know our divinity

is even then glowing like wild isotopes.

We must learn to accept our darkness as well as our light.

Those to come will marvel at our voyage

From homes by a peaceful fire,

As they harvest a world where madness

Is banished, because understood.

'They learned to like themselves, and so they survived

those bitter storms, the darkest parts of the voyage.'


Dear Jeremy

Because when I woke up this morning

beads of rain from the gutter next to my window

were each unique

and I had to stay and watch each one

Because the carpet in my hall

is quiet red flowers glowing in an amber forest

and my cat is hungry

with eyes of green eternity

Because of clouds

and because the shadows of trees

on August evenings against crumbling Chapeltown walls

are unframed artworks

dying at nightfall in the void

Because of tomatoes, rain

and the possibility of understanding time

but mostly because there are giraffes

I will be unable to attend this mornings meeting of the Joint

Commissioning Service Planning Team Sub - Committee

Rain and Dirt

I wish I was an apple tree,

I would not need no CBT,

Nor CPA nor ECT,

The rain and dirt

Enough for me.


(For Peter Munn, who once claimed I’d said that advocacy is ‘the jewel in the crown of the user movement’. That got me to thinking what else it might be!)

Advocacy is a lion

In the safari park of the user movement,

A spoonful of Demerara

In a survivors cup of coffee,

A blackbird singing

In the system’s night.

Advocacy is a bun

In the user movement’s oven,

A dolphin

in the sea of empowerment,

A diamond on the sole

Of a survivor’s shoe.

Advocacy is a Beckham free kick

Accurately placed in the final minute

Of a goalless draw

Between the user movement and the system

May 2006