top of page

Wendy Young

The 51st State of the DLA Poetician


Three grey stooges assessing my case

Cross examining like Soul assassins

My ‘claim’ for cancer and a great big op

Two years before

How elementary there’s Dr Watson

And a solicitor and a mister

Whose names rhyme and whose paradigm is cock!

Fuck me! I’m in the dock: questions like

‘by this time could you cook say an omelette and some peas’

No Dr Watson I didn’t really eat!

‘Was the friend you had staying just for reassurance’

Well Yes! Mister Cock

‘so he didn’t help you in the bath’

I couldn’t get in it!

‘do you have a hand rail?’

No I don’t Solicitor ..OH NO  I failed the crucial tick

The trick of these inhuman assessors

Belittling me because

I’m not like them ‘cause

My road wasn’t theirs, straight and up the M1

I’ve had A roads and B roads

Wine-dy lanes and slippery slopes

Inn-clines and declines, my hopes

Dashed ‘cause

I’m not like them


My path is scattered with trying and flying and dying

What with this humiliation and Actors Centre rejection - I am a failure

The devil works for RADA

Brother can you spare a dime?

Brother can you spare a rail?

The tears start to fall

I’m embarrassed with it all

Telling of my ablutions

I plead it’s more than ticking boxes and

I’m looking at the man in the middle 

Who tells me they’re not here to give me this

or give me that

I say just give me what I need

To lead a normal life!


And leave before my dignity is tick boxed to D HELL A!


In the corridor my humour’s saved by a man with a knobbly stick embedded with two different coloured eyes, shaking it at the whole establishment…like a shaman, a Druid on Acid  – he’s a good he’s a good he’s Ebenezer Good body who flails and rails and he’s still at it on the street…he’s angry they made me cry… But as I wander around the city of hypocrisy trying to find my bus the anger kicks in and I’m...

Swing Low Judas Iscariot

Comin’ for to carry us off


The pendulum swinging above us

Has come to chop off our heads

To make us go

It’s scalped us slow

Sliced at our necks

Swung us high

Swung us low

Jargon junta munchers

(Here they come the jet set munchers)

Waft Business diplomas

Degrees coming out of their suits

More managers than doctors

Meeting after meeting

Discuss over coffee aromas

Our lowly livelihoods

Decapitate our frontlines

Put us into a pyramid

On a PowerPoint chart

Boxed and accounted, neat and smart

No power

No point

Not even a one in 10

We are percentages

0.67 surplus to requirement in fact

I’m one of 6.66

In a sub paragraph

Of an acromyn collective

Is this how a thrithjungar of the West Thryding/wapantake should be treated?

If Remploy are employed no more

What the hell chance have we for

Survival of the death knell of the NHS

Swelled by greed and selfishness

20,000 soldiers aren’t wanted - what hope have we?

How low can you go?

Tick Boxing

The new sport

that keeps me ticking

for the system

and doing my head in

tick for this

tick for that

Tick for my sanity

Tick for my gravity

Tick this box if you’re mad

Tick this box if you’re sad

Tick this box if you’re bad

Well I’m ticking for the whole of humanity

To blow you up

Ticking an explosives box for you

tick tick tick tick boom!

From down below the Miners

Grew into a brotherhood

Formed a Union, strong as blood

Health and Safety was secured

Leaders got them better pay

They watched each other’s backs because

‘you had to or you could be injured,

or even die in an incident’


A camaraderie that’s been blown

By governmental policy

Like the coal dust far beyond

The cleanliness of modernity


‘you learnt to take cover when you felt a little soot

falling like talcum powder, signaling imminent collapse’


From down below the lift cage raised Miners into light

Like escapees tunnelled from capture

But the afters shift took them into

Midnight blue sky

Dotted with stars


From down below where no toilets were

They ‘did it’ where they could

Found a private place to squat and

 ‘you bare arsed ‘n’ got on wi’ it

‘n’ buried it, and guess you’d call it

toileting down t’pit’

Some did it on a shovel and threw it on a conveyor

Ate their snap and drank their liquids

Now that sounds like Hecate’s lair


So high metal walls now divide

A community that once was there

True Blues are triumphant

The common herd are done

Reverted to the olden days

Squeezed out like comedones

Stamped out like worms of the earth

Pawns in a political mission  

Spurned into oblivion

As if no life was lived there

Just stories to pass down

By faithful descendants

Or hangers on to

Our past industrialisation


About people who strived, lived and loved

(As much as was possible in a severed world)

Gardened and dug

(Well it was like a drug  - a Face Worker just couldn’t stop!)  


Made the most of the fresh air

Before re-entry in the Underworld

From beery nights to early shift hango’ers

Good night with the ‘Turn’

In the Working Men’s Club

Gone with the hub

Of life that built

A society

And fascination of kids

Like us


O’er coal wounds ground

In the skin of their backs

A result of particles

Of coal dust trapped

Under the skin

All the older miners had


A visible reminder

Of a dangerous occupation

Her granddads and my granddad

Most father’s and mine

Backs gouged inimitably with the familiar pit

Blue Scars



[Italics are from interviews on internet with ex-miners]

Poor Doors
Sheriff Stars

thistles stretch their prickly arms afar

Black Triangle
bedroom tax
Disrupt and Upset

Wendy Young reviews for Disability Arts Online. She has had a sequence published with Natterjack Press (after reviewing Rite of Passage for DAO and being encouraged by Peter Street) and has also been published in South Bank Poetry. She blogs for DAO and performs quite often (Survivors, Shuffle Festival, Liberty, Together 2012 etc). She also has a page on Creative Future's website. Her most recent collection is The Dream of Somewhere Else (Survivors' Poetry).

Blue Scars

on the faces of miners are sometimes also caused by mine explosions – a terrible reminder of the hard working conditions in the mines



Julie tells me her granddad

Worked on his hands and knees

In the mine ‘not high enough to stand in’

Picks to break the face

From the age of eleven between the coal and his tools

This was the Miner’s drudgery


Julie tells me when her son

Drives her to where she grew up

Next to the pit now levelled

Since the 1980s Strike


She can’t believe that replacing it

Is a Stepford Wife estate

With a high metal wall

And I cynically say

‘To keep the low life out?’

‘They’ve made us into a shanty town and after all that slog

My granddad did for all those years seems to have been for nowt!

It’s like they’ve closed us down!’


And I Mmm and Arghhh

And we’re angry together

‘cause when we grew up

Almost everyone was tethered

And had links to Woolley Mine

And a certain Mr Scargill


I met a woman in Barcelona

A descendant of the original owner

Before Nationalisation

My great grandfather being a farmer

At High House farm - Woolley Edge

I said ‘they may have know each other

Isn’t it strange how times have changed

and now their blood has brought us together?’

bedroom tax
Sheriff Stars

thistles stretch their prickly arms afar

Black Triangle
Disrupt and Upset

Militant Thistles

prickling the politics of "permanent austerity"

bottom of page