dash

Nineteen Eighty-Five
 
It was the year our eldest was expected  
and emerged on a late August  morning
to the cursing of her mother and the miners  
being kicked out of their pits. Everyone  
takes turn to be the enemy within.  
 
The water towers which had brooded  
with such immense solidity, for a century  
and more, were soon to be broken.  
City streets would overflow with human flotsam;  
wed rediscover the meaning of asylum.
 
Gorbachev and Reagan were meeting in Geneva  
to play stud poker with the planet
and in the Roundway Hospital Social Club,
any evening of the week, dominoes tumbled  
like the outposts of an evil empire.   
 
Some of us nurses occupied Beech Ward  
to protest at its closure and relocation  
in the profitable sector; we passed the time debating  
the merits of Back to the Future, amid the odour  
of urine and beds we dared not lie on.
 
We had so little sleep I almost nodded  
when Thatcher claimed there was no such thing  
as society - just men and women
and their children, in a house they owned themselves  
and a TV that fanned the flames of Brixton.
 
We discovered wed made a hole in the heavens;
from there it was one small step to seeing
that space might be a place to dig a trench in;
the defensive is always offensive  
to those without their finger on the button.
 
Glasnost and perestroika pulled the rug  
from beneath the feet of unbelievers.
So many Olgas landed upon their backs  
and the free world felt the benefits  
of zero hours and real time simulation.  
 
I knew this schizophrenic patient, who thought
the water tower harboured listening devices;  
when it crumbled the loss was like a bereavement.
His voices didnt cease but only grew much louder  
how else to articulate the notions of the day?

Raymond Miller

If you have any thoughts on this poem, 
Raymond Miller would be pleased to hear them.

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