Reminding The Forgotten

New poem: Reminding The Forgotten Part One

*

*

Oh do sit down.

You are spoiling my view.

No-one wants to hear 

From the Likes of you. 

*

Please take your rants 

and your large-lettered cards. 

And stand over there 

Where the other ones are:

*

The sad and the mad ones 

that couldn’t quite get, 

what you need to do  

is just get on with it.  

*

That’s what we did, 

when it all became clear, 

no rewards were coming 

to us up here.

*

So we put up, we shut up 

And we made the best.

So why can’t you? 

Why all this distress? 

*

The Earth will be fine, 

you just like a good fight, 

you students and “Lefties” 

who always think they’re right. 

*

And that poor young girl 

caught in a Marxist plot.

Just calm yourselves down 

Be happy with your lot! 

*

You just want attention, 

to cause a big fuss. 

Judging. And. Shaming 

The Likes of us.

*

We don’t want to hear it, 

it ruins our day. 

(We want to forget 

we gave our power away.)

*

‘Cause there is no point, 

nothing anyone can do. 

It’s the system we have, 

you just haven’t a clue.

*

You’d be better off 

Finding a job to get by. 

Life is Disappointment 

So why even try.

*

They won’t ever listen, 

so even if you could –

it’s all noise and waste 

and you’re doing no good. 

*

We want our quiet –

our tiny bit of peace. 

Don’t we deserve at least that? 

So for God’s sake, please 

*

Stop! Stop telling us 

our world is in a state; 

stop making us feel bad 

we left it too late. 

*

Stop reminding our age 

what we didn’t do.

We wouldn’t, (we couldn’t). 

And neither can you.

************

This poem has been brewing a while. A week-long visit from my parents, chock-full of laughter, debate, wine, food, tea, chocolate and country-side pootles in the car; the ups and downs of British politics; the actions of Extinction Rebellion and Black Lives Matter, all infusing in my cup.

After writing the poem I can see that it will be a call and response style, similar to my work two years ago which started as a cry from my soul about to the failings of our society as I see it. This poem is different in that rather than a call and response between my ego self and my intuition, this is between a character that holds particular views, formed by a lifetime of experience, close to their heart to the point of being unable to see anything other than one way, in one dimension. Those views are similar to that of my parents and parents of friends, especially those from the North-East of England who, it is impossible to see otherwise, were left on the economic slag-heap after the coal industry left and had been propped up by service-driven call centres and retail spaces with very little Trade Union presence, or efficacy. Some of the call centres moved on to international pastures and retail, well, we all know about zero-hours contracts.

Having left my home town, got an education at the behest of my parents, a good job and career in HR, developed a left-wing/centrist/green outlook, and voted to remain, I have spent time over last year trying to understand their world, empathise with it, find a way to accept Brexit vote and subsequent leanings towards the Tory party; especially their unwavering support during the pandemic crisis. I will not, however, agree with their world-view, and in some ways my personal views could be seen as just as entrenched, but I do want to build a bridge between the gap before it’s too late. I don’t have answers, only explorations of questions, of viewpoints, creating characters in poetry and story so I can find a way to get under their skin and get a sense of the world through their eyes. After all, empathy is not feeling what I would in their situation but feeling what they would feel.

One of the many things that puzzles me with the viewpoint of my character in this poem, let’s call them Tradition, is knowing that once upon a time they too felt as I did and stood up for their rights. In particular in Tradition’s past they stood up, as a woman, and asked why they did not get paid the same as men. They agitated, disrupted, protested back then but now, as Black Lives Matter and Extinction Rebellion take centre-stage, they disapprove, calling them Marxists and trouble-makers. Moreover when discussing right-wing populists outside of the UK, they talk in tones of concern for the people of a country where the leader (someone firmly headed to Destination Dictatorship) has “duped” their less educated and rural population in voting for them. 52% Fifty-two percent! They shake their head at that magic number (where have we heard that before) that this populist needs to keep control of the country by saying anything this rural populace wants to hear. “All the educated people, all the more affluent coastal people hate him” says my character. Yet, they do not see any parallels that I see with our own would-be populist and his own 52%.

Tradition is resigned to their fate. Life has been disappointment to them – struggling to pay bills, having to choose what they need rather than what they want, low-paid jobs with little power, redundancy, unfair treatment, loss, depletion, but in that there are the things they can control. They found a way to happy with their lot, to work within the system that has been set in stone. In that way they have been able to support long-held institutions such as the Royal Family, the British Empire, colonial statues, Etonians-in-charge, whilst managing to delete from their consciousness the fact it was the same establishment who made sure that Tradition remained where they were, that they “knew their place”, that they would earn and possess only a little of the vast wealth amassed. But Buddhism would tell you that finding happiness where you can is a worthy pursuit, and how wonderful is it to feel joy from the simple things in life – family, good food, holidays in the sun, watching the natural world around them, puzzles, a daily paper, so who am I to dictate the nature of their happiness?

And what of Tradition’s children? It is clear that they want them to be safe and secure. This is of paramount importance to them – get a job, stay quiet, get on with it. Just as they did. Their life may not have been successful in the ego sense of our society – money, celebrity, intellectual pursuits – but it has been a happy and safe one, and this is what they want for their children. “Put your head above the parapet,” as my parents themselves are fond of saying, “and look what happens.” They cannot see any point to it and do not want their children to be hurt, disappointed or broken in any way by the system which they see as permanent as the sun in the sky, so the fights, the protests, supported by their children, exasperate them. Their children, for their part, fail to see the parental love underneath what they interpret as cynicism and surrender.

Even in writing this and the poem, my heart has opened and softened to the character of Tradition. The first lines – aggravating, selfish, obsolete – hide within them the whole story of finding their place in the world and creating values and beliefs based on knocks and kicks life administered on the way. I hope that if you too are struggling with someone in your life that holds a view that you find bewildering, which may be causing you to withdraw or become combative, that this helps you explore your own relationship with them, and helps you find the empathy you need to cross the divide.

Love and light

Kirstie

Published by Kirstie Sivapalan

Writer. Poet. Indie Kid. Crystal Lady. Pisces. Enthuser. Cheerleader. Helper. Geordie Londoner. Sharer of stuff I know. Sometimes found working in HR (but not very often) Oh, and #spoonie, living with ME/CFS. That about covers it.

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