Tuesday, 16 April 2013

The truth about Steve

National Poetry Writing Month, a Poem a Day, April 2013

Day 16

There are between 500,000 and 600,000 people who face losing their benefit as Disabled Living Allowance is phased out. And their partners and carers will lose allowances too. Steve is one of the half million.

The truth about Steve

He’s an ordinary bloke
with a tired looking face.
He worked for 35 years,
in a regular kind of place.

As a type one diabetic,
he should have been on the sick,
but he lied to get his first job;
he told them he was fit.

And at the age of 53,
just a couple of years ago,
he had to finally begin to see
that he couldn’t do it any more.
He didn’t want to stop,
but some days
he couldn’t get up off the floor.

Now he lives with constant pain
burning in his feet and hands;
neuropathy’s to blame.
Some days he can’t stand up;
sometimes, he can’t stand - anything.

Morphine helps with the agony,
but it messes up his memory,
and he forgets how to do a load of things,
including how to laugh.
But he does remember that his income
is being cut in half.

And he knows more stuff
he would prefer to forget.
Like how easy it will be now
to get into serious debt.

And how his wife looks after him -
day, night,  never a break.
And when they cut his DLA she’ll lose
her carer’s allowance -
It’s the double hit that makes his heart really ache.

He calls them
the greedy grabbing dictators,
those who will take away his DLA.
And Steve remembers what they say:
 no one can be sick for more than three weeks’.
That’s the rule, you can’t have more,
you’ll have to work or live with being poor.

Steve is clear about one thing more,
he can’t see what end is in sight,
but he does remember how to cry,
because he knows he can’t begin to make it right.