Dole Queue Poetry

One thing ranting, punk and reggae had in common was that they were a voice from those consigned to the bottom of society. In the 70s and 80s people were stuck in a dead end on the dole, come the 2010s poverty and lack of opportunity are seen as your fault and the poor are being harder and harder hit whilst the rich get tax breaks, the MPs get expenses for duck houses and town flats, whilst social housing for the likes of us goes down the toilet.
It was bad enough being on the dole in the early 80s, but at least we had a sense of community. It is exactly that which the politicians and media barons are trampling on today.

This poem is about watching old black and white war films, what me and my mates call ‘duffle coat films’, ones that usually feature Sam Kydd.

The Duffle Coat

Without work you while your hours as cheaply as possible;
sleep more than you should, try not to dream.
They’ll cut your money for it. Don’t go beyond the door,
it’ll only cost you money. The TV is a window that peers in.
Don’t look out: the life on the adverts, dramas, and soaps
is way beyond your means. Let the waves wash you under.
It gets so bad you envy the blokes on the black and white war films:
men with a sense of purpose, with a job to do.
When you sign on these days, there’s an electronic pad and pencil.
Electricity is a form of fire, this one sparked by despair.

Tim Wells



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