poet’s dance (in memory of Leonard Cohen 1934-2016)

dance with me, Leonard
for today I’m feelin’ bad
an’ it never bothers you
when I’m morose or sad
never do you question
the negative shit I feel
when I cannot get
my black dog to heel

sing to me, Leonard
demon doubt draws near
you can hold him at bay
with your voice in my hear
those dulcet tones
fill me with hope
any song you wanna sing
helps me to cope

so dance with me, Leonard
cause I feel a bit depressed
listenin’ to your music
will return me to my best
one dance, dear Leonard
one more spin around the floor
before we both depart
through death’s dark door

copyright © 2016 KPM

poets-dance

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just another girl on benefits street

I’ve got a job interview in a couple of hours. This will be my fourth interview since being made redundant last October.

I’m as prepared as I can be. I’ve done some research on the company. I got a good night’s sleep last night. I had a good breakfast this morning. I’m nicely dressed, my hair and my nails are freshly done.

Job interviews make me nervous, though, happily, the nervousness does not show and it doesn’t affect my performance whilst being interviewed: I don’t get all red-faced and sweaty and inarticulate. No, it affects me in unseen ways….my heart pounds in my chest and my stomach cramps and churns.

As this is the fourth time I’ve been made redundant since 2010, one would think I’d be an old pro at this by now. But one never gets used to this: the wait for the invite to interview, the wait for the results, the hope that you’ll get the job you really want, and then having that hope become a desperate prayer for any job at all.

Various factors come into play when you’re job hunting. Will the potential employer think I’m too old? Because, sadly, ageism exists. Will I they trot out that tired old “you’re over-qualified for this post” line again? This is something I’ve heard a lot, and it infuriates me. Why should I be made to feel bad for having gone to college, for having worked hard in a variety of sectors? All the work I’ve done, all my employment experiences only adds to the store of knowledge I can bring to a company.

I hate being unemployed….it wreaks havoc with my self-esteem and my mental and emotional well-being. I hate hearing the slam of the front door as the other tenants in my building leave for work. I’ve always been proud of being self-sufficient, and now I am forced to ask for help from uncaring government agencies: help with council tax, housing benefit, and Job Seeker’s Allowance. I have never in my entire life been on benefits on either side of the pond, and I have found the whole process draining and depressing. Mind you, I am grateful to have been awarded the help I’m currently receiving. But I would much rather work.

Being jobless at Christmas time is the worst. Big SALE signs in shops and TV adverts which remind me that I have limited funds and most likely won’t be buying any presents for anyone apart from my Mom and my BF this year. Everyone who knows me that Christmas is my favourite time of the year; as an American, my tree always goes up the day after Thanksgiving, which I still celebrate even though I live in the UK as my BF likes the whole ritual of Thanksgiving. But in my current jobless state, the thought of the looming holiday season makes me want to crawl into bed, pull the duvet over my head and not move.

The days all run together when you’re unemployed. My whole comforting routine of get up-eat breakfast-shower & dress-go to work-work-come home-have my tea-make lunch for work tomorrow-iron clothes for work tomorrow-watch a bit of telly and then go to bed was destroyed in a 30-minute meeting.

My sleep pattern has been destroyed as well. I sleep more when I am depressed, and although my GP has increased the dosage of my anti-depressants, they help little. Thus my new routine is:

• get up at 6:30 like I still have a job to go to
• check email for invites to interview and/or “you’ve been unsuccessful” messages
• fill out job applications online until 10 or 11 (unless there aren’t enough suitable ones that day)
• shower & dress
• force myself to eat something (I skip this step 2-3 times a week)
• clean the flat (which seldom needs it)
• lie on sofa with Eeyore & the duckie blanket to watch TV only to fall asleep for 1-2 hours

This routine changes on those days when I’m fortunate enough to have an interview or on Tuesdays, when I am required to attend at the Job Centre to prove I’ve been looking for work. My “work coach” is a nice woman – she thinks I’m “great.” She’s used my CV (details removed) as a model for the other clients at the Centre, and raves about the spreadsheet I created as a tool to keep track of all the posts I’ve applied for: a detailed seven-columned, colour-coded wonder that lists the name of the company, the post applied for, date applied, and all the requisite contact and follow up details. She’s shown my creation to all the other work coaches at the Job Centre, and they all marvel at my “inventiveness” and Jenny’s luck in having a client like me.

But I don’t want to be a “client”. I’d rather be an employee.

I’ve got two friends on benefits – neither of them have worked in years. They don’t understand my grief and depression over losing my job and what I see as my failure to get another job quickly. They keep telling me to “relax”. “There are benefits to being on benefits,” they laughingly told me. Because they’re my friends, I laughed along with them, realising they were only trying to cheer me up. But truthfully, I found their attitude distasteful – the entire benefits culture that exists in the UK is appalling to me.

Luckily, it’s not an attitude I have to share, and I don’t. So as I get ready to leave for this interview, I say a silent prayer that I will soon be blessed with a new full-time post. It’s the only Christmas present I really want.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

putting up the Christmas tree

it’s just a small fibre-optic
Christmas tree
the first big present
he ever gave to me
a tree that he’d bought
for his mother
giving it to me
meant he saw me like no other

a tiny tree
with twinkling lights
it warms my soul
on cold winter nights
a gift from a man I think
was sent from heaven above
a special present that proves
I’m worthy of love

never has he come to me
with empty heart or hands
he’s always there to lead me out
when I’m trapped in the dark lands
gifts & love unbidden
he brings when I am sad
the only constant in my life
this stalwart Scottish lad

so I assemble my little tree
this gift you gave to me with love
& as I do I thank
whatever God exists above
for the blessings in my life
for all the good you do
most of all I thank the Lord
for yet another Christmas with you

copyright © 2016 KPM

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

 

enough

Lord, I’m tryin’ my best to pray
you know – my daily devotions
but I’m heartsick & I’m troubled
by too many emotions:
I feel sorrow & rage
loss, uncertainty & fear
what the hell is happenin’ here?

it’s apparent some folks
know not what they’re doin’
cuz hatred everywhere
is now spewin’
in America’s streets
the KKK dance with glee
while far away immigrants
fear for their family

Syria & Brexit
the Dakota pipeline
but the rich get richer,
which they think is just fine
meanwhile the poor & the middle class
doubt their vote, doubt their worth
since a psycho’s been elected president
of the most powerful nation on earth

folks are homeless, folks are hungry
recession has them in a hole
some have been made redundant,
forced to go on the dole
but still our so-called leaders
put on their X-Factor show
while the lines at the food bank continue to grow

they tell us to have courage
to be patient & wait
while thousands of confused children
line up at a border gate
have hope, the powerful tell us
they say all is not lost
but they’re safe in their mansions
shielded from the true human cost

I’m just one person
who knows not what to do
an ordinary person
strugglin’ daily just like you
a woman who loves & is loved
struggling to stay alive
who thinks we all need to be kinder
if mankind is to survive

copyright © 2016 KPM

enough

healing

she’s haunted
by events from her past
events & memories she wishes
did not last

but by this he is not bothered
for him her past holds no fright
he’s the shoulder she can lean on
the arms that enfold her every night

she’s been wounded
by words said, by deeds done
& he’s strong enough to face this,
though he’s the only one

the man who’s always there,
whose jokes bring a smile
the hand to hold that banishes
the darkness for a while

she’s damaged
but that doesn’t frighten him
each secret that he learns
only serves to enlighten him

aids him in dealing with her
on those days when she’s depressed
a blessing that means
her emotions don’t need to be supressed

copyright © 2016 KPM

healing

the fourth time

y’all ken she loves
her bonnie Dundee
but in November it ain’t a place
she likes to be

grey skies & cold winds
means she can’t sit in her yard
& gardenin’ season’s ended –
she always takes that hard

her new jobless state
saw her go on the dole
each visit to the Job Centre
destroys a bit of her soul

every day she’s online
sendin’ out her CV
kickin’ aside that black dog
with his attendant misery

she’ll not give up –
that ain’t sumthin’ she’d evah do
her persistence (& God’s help)
will see her through

copyright © 2016 KPM

People queuing outside a job centre