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Alan Morrison

Salted Caramels

Garthwaite, K. (2014) 'Fear of the brown envelope: exploring welfare reform with long-term sickness benefits recipients.'

Over 91,000 incapacitated claimants died between 2011 and 2014



The DWP –Department for War on the Poor –

Deploys a plethora of paper weapons on the unemployed,

Origami games galore down at jobcentrepluses these days,

Administrative harassment of claimants, “disrupt and upset”

Is the sport, managers cutting out cardboard sheriff badges

To pin on employees’ lapels who manage to hit their targets

Of sanctioning sundry jobseekers for missing post-dated

Appointments too prompt for the post –but there’s no

Excuse for poor clairvoyance among the “scrounging” classes,

It’s just another type of avoidance of work or looking

For work (even if most posts advertised are fictitious!),

Or taking up unpaid placements; there’s Customer

Compliance appointments elliptically phrased in

Sterile-looking letters that leave much space for doubt

And worry for recipients as to what to expect on turning

Up to ‘tape-recorded’ interviews – Piano wires?

Thumbscrews…? Nothing so three-dimensional,

For it’s a game of malignant origami the DWP plays,

It prefers paper weapons –O, ink can kill as well:

An average letter from this Department can work

A pretty lethal spell of unsympathetic magic,

Like black spots to Black Dogs! But of all the paper

Weapons deployed none can compare to the terror

Of brown envelopes, ubiquitous brown envelopes,

Lying in baiting wait on doormats of a morning

Like paper moths or flattened praying mantises

To greet indigents’ lockjawed yawning; and these

Brown envelopes can paralyse on sight, as soon as
Claimants spy them in hallways they get dreadful frights,

Muscles tighten, throats turn dry, hands go clammy,

Brows perspire, hearts start thumping, pulses racing –

Such symptoms these simple shapes inspire, mere

Brown rectangular envelopes with windows of glaring 

White sitting on lumpenproletariat doormats,

Simply petrify, sealed and pressed with spite, vituperative Envelopes, primed paper weapons, packets of seeds

To excite nervous dispositions, hypersensitivities,

Trigger anxieties, panic attacks, fight-or-flights,

Make grown men quake over cornflakes – there’s no

Escape from brown envelopes for recipients (except,

Perhaps, suicide -how many more suicides swept

Aside by tampered DWP statistics, while particular

Cases still come to light, like Reekie, Clapson, Salter...?),

As long as one’s unemployed or incapacitated, day

And night they’ll be stalked by these vicious missives,

Razor-sharp verdicts, tan fiends, buff furies, beige

Pugilists, brown plebiscites, salted caramels,

Interminable brown Robins with stark black and white

Insides of menacing implicatures paving the way

To disinfecting sunlight like shards of burnt glass,

To snip at and grate away fragile minds; and some

May choose to eat them, so pretend they haven’t
Received them, but those who do will taste manila

Gum on gluey tongues and the bite of sodium chloride,

For these are spiked repasts, unjust desserts laced with darnels –

The DWP slowly poisons claimants with salted caramels…

Poor Doors
Sheriff Stars

thistles stretch their prickly arms afar

Black Triangle
bedroom tax
Disrupt and Upset

Alan Morrison's poetry collections include The Mansion Gardens (Paula Brown, 2006), A Tapestry of Absent Sitters (Waterloo Press, 2009), Keir Hardie Street (Smokestack Books, 2010), Captive Dragons (Waterloo, 2012), Blaze a Vanishing (Waterloo, 2013), Odour of Devon Violet (, 2014), Shadows Waltz Haltingly (Lapwing, Belfast, 2015),

Tan Raptures (Smokestack, 2017), Shabbigentile (Culture Matters, 2019), Gum Arabic (Cyberwit, 2020), and Anxious Corporals (Smokestack, 2021). He edited the three Caparison anti-austerity anthologies:Emergency Verse - Poetry in Defence of the Welfare State (2010/11), The Robin Hood Book - Verse Versus Austerity (2011/12), and The Brown Envelope Book (2021). He is founding editor of The Recusant and Militant Thistles. Poems, polemic and monographs have appeared in The London Magazine, The International Times, Stand, The Fortnightly Review,

The Morning Star, The Communist Review, The Penniless Press, The Journal, Red Poets and others. 

bedroom tax
Sheriff Stars

thistles stretch their prickly arms afar

Black Triangle
Disrupt and Upset

Militant Thistles

prickling the politics of "permanent austerity"

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