Entries

Trapped

I feel as though

I’m trapped

There’s something

In my stomach

Or somewhere down

In that direction

That I need to call up

To make a connection.

 

Could it possibly be me

Trapped down there

Or the cynical child

Crying within me

Whatever it is

It has to be found

And I must set it free.

 

I will find a way

To call it up

Whatever it is

Must have got stuck

When I loose my grip

I think that’s it

But if that’s who I am

I don’t like her one bit.

 

http://www.xlondoncallgirl.blogspot.co.uk

http://twitter.com/XLondonCallGirl

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Cleansing

Waves lap around cool naked legs,
Toes squelch shyly on the soft warm bed,
Skipping, dancing
Exhultant and free,
Mysterious Ocean cleansing me.

Black iron shutters, misery, pain,
Handcuffs of terror entrap me again,
Sinking, drowning
Deeper I fall,
Ghost of depression encompassing all.

I try to remember, cuddle and play
With special loved ones, cherish each day,
Depression entwines me, dormant and bled,
No respect for my life,
I wish it was dead.

Feeling so little before the vast sea
Peace and hope awaken in me.
Drown this depression, its no friend of mine!
My life is for living
Not just to survive.

Ria Landon

http://www.marialandon.co.uk/

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My Mum

She is a person I will always love.

 

We’ve been through thick and thin, good and bad,
Nothing could destroy the bond we have.

Many men have tried to come between us,
Sexual jealousy, hate and anger,
But the one thing that does come between us
Is a little bit of powder called heroin and crack.

We sometimes managed to stay clean,
But when we met
The co-dependence between us
Would never disappear.
As long as we keep our distance
We get a lot stronger for each other –
We will survive.

I’m dealing with our past
And she is still in it,
But she has a partner who loves and guides her
And I have my higher power
And friends who will help me.
We will both get there
One day.

Anonymous
September 2009

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Moving On

She cries like a child

For the life she missed out on,

In her mind the memory

Of a mother and father

Taking drugs over her.

And living the only life that she knew –

Abuse, sex and drugs

From the age of thirteen.  

{mospagebreak}

 

Now it’s time to move on.

She is torn between two –

The one life she hates

But it is all that she knows,

The other life clean

And serene.                  

               But she’s scared

Of the new. What comes next?

She’s determined and strong,

But what will come next?

Carry on.  

{mospagebreak}

 

Tanya

September 2009

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Poem for the Working Woman

A woman stands on a corner.

Weather hot cold wet snow any kind,

A woman so determined,

So strong yet so vulnerable

At the same time.

Only one thing on her mind, money!

Drugs to take this feeling of pain away. 

 

Men who want love –

But we don’t love ourselves enough

To love anyone else.

Our life and emotions get battered and bruised

We start to lose the spark within. 

 

Until one day the spark withinTurns into a burning flame,

Then nothing can bring you down.

After a while you can love yourself

And others again.

The fight in you will never be taken away

Nor from any woman ever again –

No man will have the controlI never had. 

Tanya                                             

October 2009

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Wasted

The trees are stripped bare now,

of their Autumn Leaves.

There’s a frost in the air

And a sense of unease.

 

 

It’s chilling to imagine

Why? Evil has pounced

And how dumbstruck I was

When the news was announced

 

 

Icy cold water, gale driven rain,

Five young desperate girls

who is to blame?

 

 

Victims of a society,

Where the enemy prevails.

Government and top dogs

Who continually fail.

 

 

Christmas is marred now

As I hang toys on the tree

It could have been us

It could have been me.

 

 

Addictions to feed

Hunger that won’t relapse

Money to earn from a dangerous task

I’m sorry to know, that they paid the price

From the whole sordid business

That led them to vice.

 

 

Now the Angels embrace you

in their golden wings

And guide you to Heaven

Where there’s beautiful things.

 

 

The Lord will protect you

And for that we will pray

And ask him to lead us, to the path of the

right way

 

 

Your lives have been wasted

And now you are gone

Your legacy proves

Where we all really belong.

 

Vikki Stratton

 

Vikki  passed away in 2008.

Her family asked to have this poem

printed in memory of her life.

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Every Day

Every day I am learning,

Every day my soul is now                       

       healing its wounds…

Every day I stretch towards                    

       light and life

Away from fear and pain.

Every day I love more                 

     the woman I am…

The truth that is my                    

      voice; my heart; my hope.   

 
Hilary

October 2008

 

 

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Two sides to the story

Now
here’s the way I see it, and believe me, I should know,

How
the world should be is not the way it goes.

On
one side of the fence, you see, everything seems rosy,

The
little flat, the big TV – it all sounds rather cosy.

Now
on “the other side of life” it’s a very different story,

The
fights, the drugs, the alcohol, just not a life of glory.

 

It
starts off in the morning with a feeling of sheer dread,

“Where
to get some money?” is a statement often said.

“Maybe
hit the shops in town?” It depends if you’re well known,

“Maybe
beg and sing a song?” If you’re lucky, sell your phone.

The
reason that I know for sure exactly, the true facts

Is
because I’ve been on both sides, see – on heroin, drink and crack.

 

I
really didn’t have a life, purely just existed,

In
the shops they know my face – “shoplifter” known, was listed.

I’ve
heard it all, the comments made, by people passing by –

“Go
get a job,” “Get off the drugs,” it’s not that easy, I would sigh.

What
I’m trying to get across, is please just try and think

That
maybe the person you’re “sickened” by really doesn’t want to sink.

 

Jewels 2007

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Three years on….

I
wrote a piece of writing three years ago, when I was living at The Well. Just
come out of prison, I built up a relationship with my four children and I
thought that everything would be fine and that I was well, because I didn’t
have this drug habit.

 

But
what I didn’t realise is that it was only the start of my journey. Now I have
had to come to terms with the fact that I may never get my children back from
my parents – my youngest son was just twelve months old when he was last with
me, and he will be eight years old this May, so I’m not in no position to take
them back. I would love to have my children with me, but I’ve got to think
about their best interests.

 

Anyway,
more about the positive! I have two more boys – 15 months and 3 months – from
my relationship that started three years ago when I was in The Well. Before I
ruined my life by taking heroin I loved being a mum so much and I think that’s
part of the reason why, now I have had two more children, I am so
over-protective with them, and I know why it is I’m trying to put things right
so much with my two boys now, compared to where I went wrong eight years ago
with my other children.

 

My
relationship went rocky after two years. I left The Well to live with my
partner, and stayed with him for two years. We had our first son – then that’s
when things between us changed. My son was about four months old and things
weren’t pretty, so I had a family support worker who helped me to move out and
get my own place. So now I was living in my own flat, and I kept my
relationship as a casual thing. I was pregnant again but I didn’t mind although
it was very scary, but I just had to pull up my socks and get on with it.

 

In
these past three years I have come to realise this: once you get that label DRUG
ADDICT you can’t move away from it. People such as Health Visitors, Social
Services, doctors, midwives – they all look at you like you’re chatting crap
because the saying is “Once a smackhead always a smackhead.” But only I know
the truth. It’s only me knows that in this space of three years I have never
taken any illegal drugs. I had one chance when I came to Bristol, and I grabbed it with both hands,
because at the end of the day I would only be fooling myself if I went back to
my old self. I have too much to lose for that anyway, and as time goes on I’m
concentrating on being a good mum to my boys and trying to do the best for my
older children. And I want to shout out loud that people can change, and just
because they used to use drugs doesn’t mean that they still secretly do,

because that’s what the average person believes.

 

At
the end of the day all this injustice I keep getting just makes me stronger and
gives me more fight to carry on living a clean life. So this is where I’m at
three years on. I did say three years ago that I missed my old life, but when I
look back now I don’t miss it one bit, because I have a proper life now and I
realise that back then I didn’t have no life at all.

 

Leanne 15/04/08

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Through a Glass Darkly

Through
ugliness

I
saw beauty.

Through
pain

I
recognised love.

Through
rage

I
learnt forgiveness.

Through
letting go

I am
freed.

Through
loving myself

I
love you more.

Through
loving you

I
see the face of God.

 

                                                                                                Victoria, Feb 2002

 

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The Perfect Whore

I’ve been your good girl and your bad girl,

your perfect little whore;

loving mother or virgin bride

you beat me till I’m raw.

You said I was too mouthy – a lady isn’t
rude –

so I shut my mouth and bowed my head

then you did something crude,

“If you want to stay alive, bitch,

You’ll do just what I say,”

so I did just what you wanted

but you killed me anyway.

 

Victoria,  October 2001

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Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home

 

Just
the other day,

a
thousand years ago,

I
fell into the only home

that
I will ever know:

a
place of starving people

with
eyes that mirrored mine,

a
place of no expectations

and
to me that was just fine.

I
was an ugly duckling,

a
matchgirl with bare feet.

I
called out for my sisters

and
I found them on the street.

I
called out for my brothers

and
found where bad men reign;

I
felt their fists upon my face

and
recognised their pain.

I
loved them but they gave me

the
deepest pain I’ve known

and
home is where the heart is

so
now I live alone.

 

Victoria , May 2002


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Womanhood –

What is it good for?

Breasts! – I wouldn’t trade them,

And there’s baby food for free.

Multi-tasking! – we only do it ‘cos we have to, mind.

Men can play several drums at once –

But women do that, AND plan the next meal

AND worry about everyone else at the same time!

Stilletos! – say no more. They’re great.

A range of attractive hairstyles,

Sexy underwear,

Beautiful fabrics to drape round our lovely bodies.

Sisters to talk to, so we can let it all out –

Not holding back the tears. Not just laughing,

And exchanging playful punches.

Sometimes we say we’re going to give up men altogether,

And then they turn up, and we let them in.

 

Jo, Leanne, Chi Chi at One25 for International Women’s Day, March 2008

 

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I Don’t Like the World as it is Today!

I walk out of prison and much has changed

The world feels odd and very deranged

A barrage of cars with no time to wait

Did I leave my sensibility at the prison gate?

I try to cross over and froze where I stood,

Excuse me, all vehicles, I’m not being rude

A five spell inside takes its toll you see

No more the world has time for me

The green man appears. My body’s like ice

Anger-fuelled drivers just trying to be nice

I look at them, they look at me

Are you going to cross, lady? What shall it be?

My courage plucked up for the danger zone,

Hearts beating faster – wish I’d left it alone

Over I walk with feelings mixed up inside

Phew! I was too fast for anyone’s pride

I’ve reached the other side – feelings of elation

Will I ever feel again a part of this nation?

Tianna March 2008

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A Poem from the Mother of Mandy –

 

When you were a child you did nothing but chat,

But I was too busy, no time for all that,

So I pushed you away with a bad-tempered slap,

Yet you loved me, sweet Mandy, through all of that crap.

My but that love was strong, you loved me all along. 

 

When you were naughty I gave you no time,

It made me so mad each time you would whine,

I never explained you were loved, you were mine,

I simply assumed we were doing just fine.

My but that love was strong, I loved you all along.

 

Then you wanted to leave to live with your dad,

A man that I hated, and that made me sad,

Like a fool I let go even though I was mad,

And so many times I wished you were back.

But my, that love was still strong, and I didn’t know I’d been wrong.

 

You got into trouble, my heart ached for you,

I never knew what next you would be up to,

As usual I just didn’t know what to do,

I just did nothing and hoped you’d pull through.

My love was still strong, but I shut it away, ‘cos it hurt far too much to give it away.

  

Somewhere, somehow you grew up so fast.

I didn’t see it happen, where was I, I ask?

The years slipped away – all that’s left is the past,

But the memories hurt. DON’T WALK ON THE GRASS.

‘Cos love’s strong, but some grass is greener, and I don’t want to see where I’ve been.

 

Now it’s too late to show you the love was so strong,

And the guilt doesn’t stop when you start getting on,

Each line on my face is a care that has gone,

And it’s too late to wonder, where did I go wrong?

But you still love me stronger than ever, and I know that I’ll love you forever.

 

Too late for regrets they were never no good,

I can’t make amends, though I know that I should,

If I knew where to start then maybe I would,

But once in my life I must have been good.

To have your strong love even now, when I just don’t deserve it nohow.

 

My beautiful girl, if you knew of the tears

Hidden and held back through all of the years,

Tears for you and for me, for our hopes and our fears,

How I wish I could hug you and hold you so near.

But all there is now is love, and for that I thank God above.

 

I hold on to a dream, that one day you’ll be

Stronger, more loving, wiser than me,

That your spirit won’t break, and when you are free

You’ll show the world just how a mother should be.

I love you, my darling, I hope that’s enough

To be here for you now the going is tough.

I’m so sorry I just didn’t help all along,

But I know you’ll forgive me, ‘cos your love is so strong. 

The Mother of Mandy March 08

 

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In memory of Sonja

Sonja was my friend, my sister,

Worked on the doors in Bristol.

She always put other people first,

And she was funny. On my birthday

When I was pregnant, we went for a walk,

And she said “Mind the steps!”

But I was the sober one – she fell,

And jumped up, with her mouth in an “O”!

We’d take the dogs for a walk

And have a crafty spliff without the kids knowing,

And she made birthday cakes

With special ingredients!

When my man used to beat me up

She was there for me.

She was there when my youngest was born.

She died just when her life was beginning.

She’s looking down now, saying “I remember that!”…

I really hope you go up there when you die.

 

Donna   12/02/08

 

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Hope Eternal

On the hospital wing of HMP Pucklechurch 1995, I progressed through the dark despair of a mental breakdown and found deeper meaning to my life, a life with true purpose, light, and a deep level of understanding of me. I would like to share my experience with all of you. In times of darkness, it’s truly amazing the people who show us light are the people we never expected it from! My message is to try to give some hope to all you  frogs out there, and in here. We are all made of the same stuff, our hearts are two-way and our best wishes and support for each other are everlasting that will never dilute or become stagnated like the “little pond of despair” that we find ourselves at. If I ever visit that pond again, I know in my heart you will all appear and also when the time is right and bigger ponds I bathe in, you will always be invited to sit next to me.

HOPE ETERNAL

Here I sit upon a wooden bench, head in hands and surrounded by a dejected stench, staring into polluted waters; this excuse for a pond. In these grounds of a prison my life was always destined, the beginning or the end? You will find out in this story – it’s truth and not pretend.

Upon this wooden bench my life’s in broken dreams and terrifying realms. How can I go on – am I too far gone in a world of darkness where the sun never shines – seeing my reflection in the wind blowing the pond’s surface said it all. No sign of life, no fish, plants, nothing at all, only dead leaves before they drowned took the last fall, disconnected branches. Like skeletons reaching to grab fresh air – summed up my despair in that pool.

Upon this wooden bench – alone in this violated world without a glimmer of hope and a part of me that cared. The nurse sat down next to me…Why do you look so hard in this dead water? Because it’s my soul…It’s given up like used-up coals. So what do you intend to do? Clean out this pond and …live again…her laughter told me I was insane. Will you help me? I turned and asked, but with a grin she smiled, of course, where do we begin? The start is where it all ended, just before the rot set in, that’s what needs mending. Where do we begin? What do we need to do? We need mops buckets, cups, scrubbing brushes and faith within…hope and ambition and a will to swim…replace the word madness with creativity…now we are ready to begin.

Empty all that is dirty from the bottom of the pool, take out the mud on the bottom, do it properly, be nobody’s fool, remove all the sunken leaves like all life’s leeches that weigh you down until you can’t see, or lose your way. Scrub all the sides so thoroughly and they’ll be back another day…Clean all around the outside so nothing falls in, cleaning the outside reflecting what’s within.

Upon the wooden bench, I see this great emptiness, full of potential like you and me. All we need to do is to fill it up with clean waters of the talents we can be. Fill it to the top and don’t let your pond become so unmanageable it self-destructs and decays.

Upon my wooden bench, clear waters reflecting the sun, I look and admire, life is needed and desired…What fish do you want, Linda, to swim in the pond? Gold and silver and red and blue, orange and yellow – so many hues.

Upon my wooden bench, a depression came over me so heavily burdened as insight so true. These fish represented me in all that they do, every day swimming in circles, going nowhere, impressing their friends, like goldfish, so as the sun gets warmer the water was drying up – tighter space.

Upon my wooden bench, the world from the big bang to thousands of years after my time went rushing through my mind realising how short life was…my whole life wasn’t a blink in the universe’s eye, time like these sad fish, I was waiting for the waters to dry up as the air dried me up…in the thoughts of a fish I was dead like the pollution’s suffocating air.

Upon my wooden bench I’d given up – my pond was pointless, a prison I’d made. I deserve to be here so sad. All my avenues exhausted, the will sapping away – one tiny bit of faith came my way –

Upon my wooden bench in the grounds of this prison, something caught my eye’s attention, like poetry in motion, like reality in suspension. I watched, I saw ripples across the water, two little eyes appear then a foot, then a leg, a little scuffle before it disappeared. My mind was alive again with stimulation.

Upon my wooden bench, my pond had new meaning. Instead of being a fish and the prison to my surroundings, I’ll be a frog and hop, and skip and a hop would be my every step to the top. Even if I fall into troubled waters, I’ll never be afraid, hung, drawn and quartered – simply paddle, I was sorted!

The sun could not dry me out, nor land or water control me…amphibious and ambitious was me.Upon my wooden bench a frog send by god showed me the way!God bless you all! Linda

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Faith

 

When your feeling over-whelmed
by anger and despair
It just gets harder, day by day
and your life seems so unfair
 
But this won’t last forever
and things soon turn around
And then you will appreciate
the strength you have found
 
So treat yourself with kindness,
and surround yourself with calm.
Just call on those who love you
and shield yourself from harm
 
Then when it is all over
And you look at life anew
Knowing you faced up to the demons
and your courage saw you through. 
 
Debbie Stacey
 
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PROCESS

I’m standing here waiting
Waiting for him to arrive
My stomach churning
I know I should give up 

Here he comes as bold as brass
In his big snazzy car and baseball cap
You flash your cash and he gives you your deal
All that gear I wish I could steal 

I unwrap it fast, can’t wait for the hit
I can not stop shaking shit my foil has ripped
So I start again got that rush already
I’m trying to keep my body steady 

I place it on the foil ready
I burn away it takes the pressure away
I light up the flame put it under my foil
I suck it hard not wanting to spoil 

Once I have finished I lay back and relax
I can feel the hit in my head
The guilt kicks in
I wish I was dead 

Shellie

 

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MOTHERS LOVE

It’s not nice to be pushed aside
To be ignored
Not even to be remembered 

It’s not easy being told you’re not loved
To be told you’re not wanted
Your life counts for nothing 

It’s not good to feel that first punch
To be able to get up
To hold back the tears                                 

                                    I’m sorry mum 

Shellie

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LOVE LOST

Looking in the mirror
Only time will see
How you broke my heart
And crushed the way I live 

But I want only you
I want to feel your love
I want to know that feeling again
To feel like I’m loved 

I love you
I need you
I want to give you my all
For that touch of yours 

My head is bursting with ideas of love
I don’t want another man
These feelings just won’t die down
My heart is in bits right now

You’ve forced me out
You drove me away
I don’t care
I’ll have my day
Because I love you

Shellie

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LOCKED SECRET

It’s dark in here and it’s all locked up
No where to go nothing I can see
Except the glint of light under the door 

Why do they hit me?
Why don’t they care?
What have I done so wrong? 

I’m hungry not been fed for days
I’m using all my strength
To scratch at the door
But nobody listens 

Why lock me in?
Why no food?
What have I done so wrong? 

Shellie

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IN THE NIGHT OF A PRO

I’m standing here frozen solid
Waiting for my prey
I ask them if they want business
They ask how much to pay 

I tell them the going rate
And then get into their car
They touch my body all over
They want to kiss but I can’t 

I close my eyes and think of tomorrow
Then get my money and say goodbye
He lets me out all in a panic
My hearts racing don’t know why 

There I go standing again
Waiting for my prey
This time could be my last time
It’s the same every dayShellie

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IMAGE

I see her standing there
All naked and bare
Scars on her arms and legs
Just looking at her self 

Who is this monster I see
The grotesque, fat, shabby haired monster
It hurts to look it hurts to stare 

Has the mirror cracked
No it’s just her face staring through the mirror
You know that monster I see
Well it’s me

 Shellie

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I WAITED HE CAME

I waited he came
He’s so fit what a babe
He stroked my face
And just for that ½ second I felt safe 

He said it would never happen
If I can’t have him I’m becoming a nun
He said he likes my company
When we kiss it’s like the royal syphony 

I don’t understand
Why I allowed this to happen
But I made my choice (the wrong one)
But what is done is done

And now he’s gone
I wish I said I love you
My barriers are angering me
They have to come down
I’m sorry
I love you

Shellie

 

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Change…..You can!!

Close the pages of that book
It’s time to start anew,
Learn from all that awful stuff-
Now from good folk take your cue. 

No more anger fuelled by drugs,
or your constant need for more;
instead get addicted to success and
joy,
You CAN do it, of that I am damn
sure!
                                   

Anna Marsh, 26 Nov 2006

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Moving ON …..BUT HOW??

I’m told I’m clever,
that I could do so much more,
asked ‘Why do I not?’
But they overlook the essential flaw..
If I stopped smoking into oblivion, as I
do each and every day,
I’d be forced to face way too much.
How could I cope?
Would I find a way?                                                            

Anna Marsh, 22 Nov 2006 

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Disgrace in our mirrored face

People pass and they whisper abuse,
I only just hear them but it hurts,
As if I don’t disgrace myself
As I unbutton each and every shirt. 

To them we are scum and dirty
As if we don’t deep down agree,
But we don’t need to be reminded
In every window and mirror we clearly
see.
 

It’s such a vicious circle,
This life we’re now trapped in.
We need our drugs to stay sane.
To afford them we must still commit
that sin.

Anna Marsh, 20 Nov 2006

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Clouds of grey

Clouds of black and grey surround,
not one ray of sun to be found.
That’s my life from day to day,
Only the dubs and ‘b’s make me stay,
Or I’d have given up so long ago,
Ended this hell, this freak show,
Saved my family from all their sorrow.

But instead there’ll be more tomorrow.
What I’d give to change the past,
Not to have begun the drugs…                                                                      

Anna Marsh, 19 Nov 2006

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Daddy’s Girl

Daddy’s Girl
So why do I hurt him?
I don’t intend to..
Just don’t think about the
consequences of what I do.
 

My dad’s always there,
picks me up when I fall or break,
he tucks me in when I sleep.
So, God, why do I keep making my
Dad weep?
 

I want to change,
to make him happy
and to make him proud.
No more stress or worry –
He’ll know I’m safe and sound. 

Dad, I’m so sorry,
I really do love you.I
know I make you tired out,
stressed and ill.I
’m terrified my behaviour, could ..I
can’t say it ….. even kill!
 

I want you here
but not to need you.
No more dependence.
But a life without my dad around me,
I don’t want to think how that life
would be.

Anna Marsh, 2 Nov 2006

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Souls in hell

Dark as hell on our streets;
nooks and crannies, doorways
and alleys.
 

Now you see us,now you can’t
hide and seek, woman and freak.
Free to all or cheap we aren’t.
Always one who tries it on,
Fuck off now! Smack, Punch. Ouch!
They take your soul, then are gone                                  

Anna Marsh, 30 Oct 2006

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Blank inside

Some are angels
Some are not,
Some hate men
Some,love has forgot.
We ply our trade,
Forget self-pride
Turn off our brains,
Go blank deep inside.

Anna Marsh, 29 Oct 2006

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Dark Angels, Ladies of the Night

Shadowy streets and black corners,

Some cruisers, some are walkers,
Men seek us, Dark Angels, every night.

They rush and they hurry
Full of paranoia and worry
Like us, check no Bill are in sight.
 
Clear skies or heavy rain,
Even when the cold causes us pain,
We Dark Angels are out dodgin’ the
law

A little, a lot
What have you got?
We ask as we phone up our dealers
to score
 

Then Dubs we will smoke
Followed by Bs to numb the pain,
Then it’s back out to work in the rain. 

But each of us know
We depend on that dough
No cash, so no drugs, means rattle –
such PAIN.

 

Anna Marsh 17, Oct 2006 

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Stereotypes

 

I am afraid to have to admit
that the public have the view
us working girls in Hillfields
do whatever we’re asked to do. 

Police and press portray
‘our kind’as druggies, half dead and diseased
maybe just one or two are that
but that’s all they’ll let you see. 

An easy life we choose to live
That is what they say.
If that’s true then you should try,
I bet you couldn’t hack one day. 

Don’t pass judgement on the unknown;
desperation drives us to what we do;
we see no choice, no escape from this,
it could so easily be you!                                               

Anna Marsh 12 Oct 2006

 

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Christmas in Recovery


Shining lights, colourful and bright,

reflecting off my eyes

they themselves bright and shining.

 

To wake in the morning safe and warm

with the feeling of love and gratitude

is a Christmas gift I can never remember receiving.

 

This year I look forward to unwrapping my heart

and finding this gift inside

And having special people round me

to share the very same gift

God-given, lovingly accepted,

And worn on my smile with pride.

 

R, Dec 2007

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Warning

As tragic lives go on around us,

We fight to breathe.

As the people of this world stumble

Towards destruction,

We learn to grieve

For the love and respect we’ve lost in ourselves

And in everyone around us

My heart, it breaks with sorrow

As I look on in hopeless desperation

 

Please open your eyes.

 

Mother Nature is warning us

Of turbulent times to come

In the hope we will soon come together

And see the truth as one.

Please remove your blindfold of ignorance

Spread the word and help them see,

We must eradicate all our selfishness

Before our world will ever be free.

 

We must open our arrogant eyes!

 

R, October 2007

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Stigma


Silly preconceptions of small-minded people!

Tarring every user with the “mugging pensioners, needles thrown away in parks” brush!

Ignorance towards the intelligence, talent and humanity of users!

Grateful to have us “4th class” citizens as scapegoats for all of society’s problems!

Mind, we don’t have to live up to all this bullshit!

And we should never quit trying to prove them all wrong – NEVER!

 

R, October 2007

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Stargazer

 

 As I look upon these stars tonight

 

I realise this is all a cycle


So many lifetimes


All affected


By one sacred and natural miracle.

                                               

R, October 2007

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Oh to be an addict!


Oh, to be an addict,

All warm and safe and sound,

All wrapped up nice in cotton wool

With “best friends” all around.

 

Oh, to be an addict,

I’m feeling really cold,

My legs are weak, my thinking hurts,

I’m feeling tired and old.

 

Oh to be an addict,

It’s giro day today,

I went to see my “bestest friend”

Who took the cold away.

 

Oh, to be an addict

No giro day today,

I cannot find my “best friends”

As I have nothing left to offer

But the clothes upon my back

And the monkey under that!

 

(Repeat once a week, 52 weeks a year!)

R, October 2007

 

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To Davie

Can you hear, we scream our names,

for all that we have needed?

 

Can you hear, we scream for love,

and just to feel contented?

 

But we forgot

We cannot hear,

We find, we can’t explain,

We seem to have lost

The power of speech,

And that is what’s causing our pain!

 

There is a void between us now,

That we’re too afraid to fill,

And I think we’ve left it

Far too late,

For us to bond at all!

 

But your friendship means the world to me,

So please do not be sad,

‘Cause even when I leave this place

You’ll always be in my heart!

 

R, October 2007

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Holding on


For all I have, in my life to hold,

My hands are just too small,

As evidence of my existence

Slips through sore fingers.

 

And as I keep holding on

To my questionable sanity,

My hands will bleed despair,

On a desperate search

To find my soul,

On a road that leads to nowhere!

 

R, October 2007

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A poem of Hope and Glory

Eventually moved in today

Cannot believe it’s true

It’s such a beautiful room

So bright

So peace at last –

Too good to be true

And real. 

 

So I sat here on my bed,

A voice inside said

Peace, love, harmony

As I watched the TV,

Say it news, a cup of tea,

A small meal. Thanks to Dee,

Everyone at One25

Who helped me get this room

And me here today.

Things be better now,

Vicki, Kate, Dana,

Old mates from before,

No smoke, no beatings

From Raymond no more,

Been gone two days and all.

 

So I give my love

And thanks to God

For being there for me

Answering my prayers.

I be taking each day anew

So all you girls out there who

Going through the same as I –

Don’t give up, it come true

For U as well.

Please bless my life and room

And friends, and keep me safe,

And bring peace and love

And strength and protection

From you my friend, saviour,

Father up above.

Thanks to all you at One25

And everyone else I love.

 

T– a friend of One25

 April 2007

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Booze

Booze Oh booze you are a pest

You often keep me from my rest

You send me home looking rough and funny

Some folk say you’re a waste of money

But you help me to thold my wife

So I will be your friend for life.

 

T

May 2007

“Thold” is a Scottish word meaning “control.”

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Sat in the One25

Candice is asleep

Opposite me.

Trinna 2 the left

Books 2 the right

And me in the middle.

 

Just had me hair corn-rowed

Apart from me big belly I feel quite whole –

 

Going 2 the hospital 2morrow

2 check out if me liver

Is cirrhosed?

 

S

May 2007

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The Truth

I was run over by the truth one day

It hurt so much I could have died.
So I got up to see what’s what,
As the Truth rumbled away around the corner
The cruel reality check I needed
To realise I was wasting time
I can accept the truth and learn from my
hurt
There’s good ways and bad ways and no easy
answer,

And it’s hard to get up when you’ve just been run over.

 

M, T, H, & G

May 2007

 

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Forgiveness

Can forgiveness be good or bad?

Can it make us happy or just really sad?

I don’t know, I’ve not learnt the art,

Of forgiving people that have ripped me apart.

I’ve never been good at letting things go,

When others just seem to go with the flow,

I hold things right down deep inside,

And walk about pretending to be full of pride.

But I have no pride and no forgiveness,

I’ve never been treated like some little princess,

No one has ever put my life at ease,

So why the fuck should I live to please?

So forgiveness what is it? How does it work?

When all my life has been full of hurt,

But I’m still here to live another day,

And hope the art of forgiveness comes my way.

C – April 2007

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Hope Eternal

On the hospital wing of HMP Pucklechurch 1995, I progressed through the dark despair of a mental breakdown and found deeper meaning to my life, a life with true purpose, light, and a deep level of understanding of me. I would like to share my experience with all of you. In times of darkness, it’s truly amazing the people who show us light are the people we never expected it from! My message is to try to give some hope to all you  frogs out there, and in here. We are all made of the same stuff, our hearts are two-way and our best wishes and support for each other are everlasting that will never dilute or become stagnated like the “little pond of despair” that we find ourselves at. If I ever visit that pond again, I know in my heart you will all appear and also when the time is right and bigger ponds I bathe in, you will always be invited to sit next to me. 


Here I sit upon a wooden bench, head in hands and surrounded by a dejected stench, staring into polluted waters; this excuse for a pond. In these grounds of a prison my life was always destined, the beginning or the end? You will find out in this story – it’s truth and not pretend.

Upon this wooden bench my life’s in broken dreams and terrifying realms. How can I go on – am I too far gone in a world of darkness where the sun never shines – seeing my reflection in the wind blowing the pond’s surface said it all. No sign of life, no fish, plants, nothing at all, only dead leaves before they drowned took the last fall, disconnected branches. Like skeletons reaching to grab fresh air – summed up my despair in that pool.

Upon this wooden bench – alone in this violated world without a glimmer of hope and a part of me that cared. The nurse sat down next to me…Why do you look so hard in this dead water? Because it’s my soul…It’s given up like used-up coals. So what do you intend to do? Clean out this pond and …live again…her laughter told me I was insane. Will you help me? I turned and asked, but with a grin she smiled, of course, where do we begin?

The start is where it all ended, just before the rot set in, that’s what needs mending. Where do we begin? What do we need to do? We need mops buckets, cups, scrubbing brushes and faith within…hope and ambition and a will to swim…replace the word madness with creativity…now we are ready to begin.Empty all that is dirty from the bottom of the pool, take out the mud on the bottom, do it properly, be nobody’s fool, remove all the sunken leaves like all life’s leeches that weigh you down until you can’t see, or lose your way. Scrub all the sides so thoroughly and they’ll be back another day…Clean all around the outside so nothing falls in, cleaning the outside reflecting what’s within.

Upon the wooden bench, I see this great emptiness, full of potential like you and me. All we need to do is to fill it up with clean waters of the talents we can be. Fill it to the top and don’t let your pond become so unmanageable it self-destructs and decays.

Upon my wooden bench, clear waters reflecting the sun, I look and admire, life is needed and desired…What fish do you want, Linda, to swim in the pond? Gold and silver and red and blue, orange and yellow – so many hues.

Upon my wooden bench, a depression came over me so heavily burdened as insight so true. These fish represented me in all that they do, every day swimming in circles, going nowhere, impressing their friends, like goldfish, so as the sun gets warmer the water was drying up – tighter space.

Upon my wooden bench, the world from the big bang to thousands of years after my time went rushing through my mind realising how short life was…my whole life wasn’t a blink in the universe’s eye, time like these sad fish, I was waiting for the waters to dry up as the air dried me up…in the thoughts of a fish I was dead like the pollution’s suffocating air.

Upon my wooden bench I’d given up – my pond was pointless, a prison I’d made. I deserve to be here so sad. All my avenues exhausted, the will sapping away – one tiny bit of faith came my way –

Upon my wooden bench in the grounds of this prison, something caught my eye’s attention, like poetry in motion, like reality in suspension. I watched, I saw ripples across the water, two little eyes appear then a foot, then a leg, a little scuffle before it disappeared. My mind was alive again with stimulation.

Upon my wooden bench, my pond had new meaning. Instead of being a fish and the prison to my surroundings, I’ll be a frog and hop, and skip and a hop would be my every step to the top. Even if I fall into troubled waters, I’ll never be afraid, hung, drawn and quartered – simply paddle, I was sorted!

The sun could not dry me out, nor land or water control me…amphibious and ambitious was me.

Upon my wooden bench a frog send by god showed me the way!

God bless you all! 

L.

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Rising from the ashes

The hardest part of a journey
 Is the first step.
 Feelings of mixed emotions –
 Anxious, scared, nervous –
 Happy feelings lost,
 The unknown lies ahead.
 My journey comes in pieces
 Like little steps.
 I feel like a baby
 Learning to walk and talk,
 But every day I’m growing
 And making little achievements
 Towards a goal that’s bigger than any drug

I've ever scored before.


 


K – Feb 2007

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Sal

I once was broken
 Left words unspoken
 Now I’m getting put together
 And not so unpredictable, like the weather
 Maybe I’ll go to Heaven, maybe Hell –
 Right now I don’t care –
 I don’t feel like I need to despair!
                          -oOo-
  As people stop to stare
 They do not often think of the look on the face
 That was once beautiful and bare.
 People stop but often couldn’t care less
 That what once would have been a wall flower
 Is now a total mess.

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Zodiac Lives

I was born under Virgo
I’m supposed to be logical, analytical and critical –
But I’m no Vulcan, I can tell you.
I’ve eaten uneatable food,
And said nothing.

 My son was born under Scorpio
He’s supposed to find it hard to talk of his problems –
But he comes home and tells us
He’s fought with his teacher,
And we wait for the letter.

 I was born a Libra
In my life I’m supposed to find balance and harmony –
But once I smashed my best cups
One after another
When I really wanted to kill my husband.

 
My sister was born Aries
She’s supposed to be positive, extrovert, careless,
But queues make her grit her teeth and swear,
And I’ve heard her scream
At her dead father.
 

J,S,H,H

2006

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It’s hard not 2…….

It’s hard not 2 laugh
                        when you’re being told off,
                        when you’re on TV for being bad,
                        when your brother dresses cool,
                        when someone falls over,
                        when you’re strung out,
                        when you talk in front of a crowd,
                        when you’re told not to smile,
                        when you look back at disasters.
 
It’s hard not 2 cry
                        when I speak to my Mum
                        when I think of my daughter,
                        when I watch the Passion of Christ,
                        when I think of my past,
                        when I think of my regrets,
                        when my mum gives me a cuddle,
                        when I listen to a sad song,
                        when I get angry,
                        when my team loses,
                        when my heart is broken,
                        when somebody’s kind. 

 It’s hard not 2 pray
                        when the plane takes off
                        when you pass your exams,
                        when the car breaks down,
                        when the bus is late,
                        when your child is ill,
                        when you find the strength to walk
                                    away from an offer of gear,
                        when you get over a craving,
                        when the tests are clear,                       
                        when the plane lands safely.

 

WATW

2005

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Smack’ed

What’s it like when you first try smack?
It hits you in the face with a big fat whack.
Sometimes you’re sick, and you puke right there,
But it all feels good and you just don’t care.

 You go into a dream and you float and fall,
But that’s not the end of it, that’s not all.
You maybe kinda feeling that you’re on cloud nine,
You have a cigarette and you think you’re doing fine,
You don’t want to move so you just lie still,
You sometimes sleep for hours and you wake up ill.
But even if you’re happy and you don’t feel rough,
It don’t feel any good, cos it’s never good enough.

 All the time you’re looking out for that next hit,
Searching for the perfect high – but this ain’t it.
To get out of your box and to get unreal,
So you don’t have to think and you don’t have to feel.

 You think you can escape from the conniving and the stealing,
The lying and the crying and the wheeling and the dealing,
But your friends can’t be trusted and your family won’t see ya –
Your legs just twitch and jerk – you get cramps and diarrhoea,
You think you can escape from all the problems that you got,
But smack’s the biggest problem of the whole fuckin lot.

 

WATW

2006

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You pulled me through

I think of the dark times
The times all alone,
Even in a crowd
I was all on my own,
So isolated
And so scared,
I never knew
That someone cared.

You have pulled me through

You carried me and I never knew.

I cried so many
Painful tears,
For all those lonely
Wasted years,
Waking up wishing
I was dead,
Believing the lies
Inside my head.
 
You have pulled me through
You carried me and I never knew.
 
Then just at the time
I was feeling most weak,
And all around me
Looked most bleak,
I looked right inside me
And I found you,
You gave me strength
And pulled me through.
 
You have pulled me through
You carried me and I never knew.

M, E, H & H

(November 2006)

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That ought to do it

This story was inspired by a mysterious picture of a glamorous young woman sitting in a chair with a drink in her hand and two men apparently dead at her feet!  

Selina pulled her silky stockings up over her long shapely legs, and put her feet into her Gucci platform open-toed shoes. Her purple chiffon dress, just above the knee, with plunging neck-line looked smart, sexy and sophisticated. 

She took her 9mm from the drawer and placed it in her slender handbag. 

It was a cool summer’s evening and she wouldn’t need a coat. She checked on the children. They were sleeping, and Marc, her husband, looked at total peace curled up in bed snuggled up to the duvet in dreamland – the only time the memories left him alone.  

They were going to pay for what they’d done to her beautiful family. She’d make sure of that. 

She left the house and shut the front door behind her. Then she got into her black Mercedes SL convertible. God knows, she’d worked hard to earn the house, the car, designer clothes – but right now it meant nothing. 

She said a little prayer in her head: “Please don’t let this be the last time I see my family.” 

After a thirty minute drive across town, she pulled up outside a shabby apartment block and parked the car. She looked completely out of place and a drunken tramp asked her for small change. She opened her purse and passed him a 100 dollar note.“Thank you, beautiful lady. Will you marry me?” 

She smiled and walked into the broken-down apartment block. The security door was no longer secure. It simply pushed open. The smell was strong and putrid. There were urine patches all over the floor and stains up the walls. Debris and litter was strewn everywhere. 

She walked through it, unfazed. She was on a mission, and wouldn’t stop until it was complete. She arrived at the door and knocked it. A voice shouted “Who is it?” 

“Selina,” she replied. 

The door opened, and stood in front of her was a horror of a man – unshaven, rotten teeth, fat beer belly, stinking of fags and stale rum. 

“Selina!” he said “Come in. What a pleasant surprise! Come back for some more of the same, have you?” 

She walked past him into the front room, where his sorry excuse for a brother was sitting. “Sexy Selina! To what do we owe this pleasure?” he said. 

The bile rose up in her stomach and she feared being physically sick. “I’ve come to repay my debt,” she said. 

“You don’t owe us anything, but you’re welcome to some more of the same,” he said. 

Scenes of them raping her flashed through her mind. Their stinking breath and body odour she could smell. She opened her purse and took out her gun. They froze with fear. 

“Oh come on, Selina. You know we never meant anything by it.” 

“It was just a bit of fun. You know you loved it.” 

Bang. Bang. She shot them both dead. 

Then she went over to the drinks cabinet and poured a straight brandy. She sat in the chair, her gun still smoking, and sipped her Courvoisier. 

That ought to do it, she thought.

  

A.

November 2006.

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Inner Child

Deep inside me I know you’re there.
You try to get my attention,

But I ignore your calling,

You scream and shout

And stamp your foot.
I’m here,

But I ignore you.
 You say to me to come and play
But I turn my head

Not today.
Cuddle and love me and hold me tight –Not right now. It don’t feel right. You begin to weep,
And you need me now,

But it’s just so hard
And I don’t know how. But I know you’re there,
I won’t forget,
So please hold on
Till the day comes
That I can love you.

Dawn
November 2006

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Reaction to the murders of five women in Ipswich (2)

I’m a 38-year-old mother of three and I’ve been an escort to gentlemen on and off for about twelve years. I’ve recently stopped completely – chosen a different way of life without offering my services to gentlemen, and also given up on drugs and drugs culture.           

I found the recent events very sad, and the press extremely unjust in the way that they handled the situation at hand. I believe these women come from all types of background, and what they have in common is that they are daughters, mothers, partners. Not last, but least, they provided a service that most gentlemen desire and are happy to pay for.           

They may have chosen an unsafe way of working, but we can ask ourselves – should we be judging them for that? In my profession I only chose to work from safe establishments, with a minder to keep me safe, but not everybody can afford to do that. We all know streets are not safe, yet what choices are available to these vulnerable women?            

Women in general provide this type of service for various reasons. Best known to the public is drug culture in other words supporting their drug habit. Also we have extremely well-educated, cultured women who do this type of business simply because they cannot afford to pay their bills – or because of loneliness or lack of self-confidence.           

We as the public need to be more aware of these women and their needs and not fail them by stereo-typing them. In fact I think there should be more support networks available to these women, groups, safe places to work from. They should be able to seek help from police without being scared of getting arrested for soliciting. They’re not only exposed by customers, but by public, press and police.           

We also, as women, have to be kind to our own sex, and understand and educate ourselves that this service that these women are providing is just another profession like being an air-hostess, glamour model, porn star, model, actress, secretary, nurse – without the glamour.           

Actually these women in fact on occasions provide such a service that would stop predators from raping, dominating, child abuse, and any other offending behaviour that may cause harm to their immediate family or others.           

Let’s educate ourselves and not be ignorant. Give these women the guidance and protection they need. 

E.

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A reaction to the murders of five women in Ipswich

Beautiful, vulnerable women. Just like your mother, wife, sister. Which is exactly what the women working the streets are – women.

 

            Sadly for most they’ve found a way to escape reality in drugs – in some way or another most have had tormented pasts. They feel like no-one cares – feel they’re not worth more than the life they lead. I don’t know one woman out there, including myself, getting into strange men’s cars night after night, who does so because she wants to. More to the point – she has to.

 

            Just so you’re aware of the danger/reality – three, four, five different men a night, driven to dark, lonely places, giving that man his satisfaction and all the power. Then dropped back if they’re lucky, to do it all over again. If they’re not so fortunate – beaten, raped, abused, killed. These men – husbands, fathers, businessmen, judges – respectable men, but people don’t want to see that.  Society wants to ignore it. It’s a lonely, desperate existence for these women. And you think they want to do it, have a choice!

 

            Sadly, our society is ignorant of the reality of how many women there are out there. Women who were once vulnerable children, women with parents, women with children. People need to be made aware.

             I believe after the terrible murders of these beautiful women in Ipswich something really needs to be done. Help the women still out there risking their lives night after night. Help them to be safe. No, there is no miracle to make it all go away, but if people were more willing to listen, to understand, we as a society can make a difference. 

Give safe areas to work in.

Listen to the women if they’ve been raped or beaten. The police need to take them seriously, just like they would any other woman who’s been raped.

Put more lighting in areas where women work.Open more projects to help women who find themselves on the street. Give women who’ve ended up on the street selling their bodies (and more!) a chance – they deserve a chance just like anyone. Help them to be safe. How many more women have to die? You never know, it could be your daughter, wife, mother, sister out there – would you listen and help then?? 

E

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The Nameless Girl

By Helen.

I was walking down the East End
To see what I could see,
Walked down towards the subway
And a woman beckoned me.

She asked if I had any cash
To pay for her smack craze,
Looked into expressionless eyes
And saw the junkie glaze.

With hair all matted, she started to shake
And eyes bulged with fear,
She fell on her knees and pleaded with me,
On her face fell a silent tear.

I picked her up and gave her the cash
And she started to shuffle away –
A 17-year-old girl with a 70-year-old face,
With the smack she injected each day.

I stopped her from walking, asked her her name,
And back came an evil stare –
“No-one’s asked me my name – I don’t know it any more,
I’m in a world that doesn’t care.”

She turned as she saw a pusher
Who was selling smack on the street,
She parted with cash for a smack-filled wrap
And no “hellos” to meet.

She turns, cooks it, injects herself,
And is suddenly very quiet,
She slumps to the floor and starts to shake,
With body that brain turned riot.

She stops her shaking and starts to stare
At a world that now looks good
And as I watch the nameless girl
A tear falls on the bare ground I’m stood.

I had to leave the nameless girl
As I can’t stand the depressing sight,
With smack-filled veins and withered expressions
I wonder if she’ll last the night.
I get to my flat, sit on the chair,
And think of the girl with no name,
She’s only 17 and doesn’t know better,
But who the hell’s to blame?

Toss and turn that night, I couldn’t sleep,
I was up in the early morn,
Walked down the subway, and with the sight I saw,
My heart from my body was torn.

For the girl with no name had died that night,
And in the gutter she lay.
Where’s your daughter, is this her?
Well who the hell’s to say?

Read this poem out loud for best effect.

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The Design of Small Things

The smallest thing –
A bedbug or a springing flea –
Is beautifully designed.
Their many eyes, their telescoping mouths –
Do some, like us, have toenails, tongues and teeth,
But more minute?
 
And what about their minds?
What do ants think
Feeling the trembling of the earth
As we approach? Are they afraid?
Do they have pictures, speculations, dreams,
Crowding their tiny brains?
 
We know all of us came
From one primeval soup.
And we no longer ask who thought
Or cared so much about small things
That they would paint a ladybird,
Or trace fine cobwebs framed in frost,
And all to our delight.

 

Heather, Lisa, Sarah
November 30th 2005

 

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Newborn Baby

Curled like a cocoon,
As fresh as washed sheets,
His hand as big as my thumbnail,
His hair as soft as chicks’ feathers
His skin silky and milky
And smooth as chocolate.
His cry like strange music,
And his eyes the colour of Galilee.

 

Kelly, Tracey, Sarah, Dawn, Heather
May 2006. 

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I am……

I am the sun that sets on your sadness

I am the sadness that sinks in your heart

I am the heart that beats full of joy

I am the joy that leaps in your soul

I am your soul, turning turns darkness to light

I am the light at the end of your tunnel

I am the tunnel that leads you to home

I am your home, that is safe in the sunshine

I am the sun that shines from within.

 

Karen, Kelly(1), Kelly (2), Lisa, Heather 

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What do you get?……

To be sung to the tune of “What do you get when you fall in love?”

 

What do you get when you’re taking drugs?
Pinned-up eyes and a nose that itches,
You turn from nice girls into bitches –
I’ll never take those drugs again.

What do you get when you’re taking drugs?
Cramps in your stomach and your face in your dinner,
You go from being fat to so much thinner,
I’ll never take those drugs again.

Don’t tell me what it’s all about
Cos I’ve been there and I’m glad I’m out –
Out of the cold and into the warm,
Into the safe house and out of the storm.

What do you get when you’re taking drugs?
A patch on the corner and an ASBO order
A ride by the Babylon across the border,
I’ll never take those drugs again.

What do you get when you’re taking drugs?
Unhealthy bodies and dodgy tickers,
Instead of in the toilet you do it in your knickers,
I’ll never take those drugs again.

I’ll never take those drugs again.

 

Juliet, Lisa, Sarah, Mandy, Heather 

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Well Rap 2

Hey you girls who are on the beat
Get your backsides off the street!

We know where you been cos we’ve been there too,
Clean up your act – there’s more you can do!

Hey you men who are crawling by,
Don’t you ever stop to wonder why?

Why these girls all need your money?
They’re all on drugs and that ain’t funny.

Standing there in the wind and the rain –
You’re getting your pleasure from them girls’ pain.

Get back to your missis and be a man
And be a proper husband – that’s if you can.

We know where you been cos we been there too,
Clean up your act, there’s more you can do!

Hey you people who are passing by
You don’t hear the women scream and cry,

You call out “bitch!” and you call out “whore!”
But you see the outside – you don’t see more.

You say it’s ugly, you say it’s crude,
But you got an ugly attitude!

That’s someone’s daughter, that’s someone’s ma –
They’re human beings just like you are.

Hey you girls who are bought and sold
Respect yourself and come in from the cold.

It’s a simple message from me to you –
Clean up your act – there’s more you can do.

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I Like ……

The women at The Well 

 

I like chocolate, I like chips,
I like crisps and spicy dips,
I like chicken, rice and peas,
I like scones, cream cakes and teas.

I like butter on my bread,
With nuts and jam and chocolate spread,
All these things have passed my lips,
And now they’ve gone down to my hips.

Losing weight’s the boring bit –
Now I’m trying to get fit!

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Avarice

People always say “Money can’t buy happiness.”

I always said “It can help you be miserable in comfort.”

Being poor is rubbish, I’d say. You only have to ask those poor little devils working in my hairdressing salon. Still, I gave them a start, didn’t I? The salon was doing well, and that was because I kept the costs down.

It was best when I got kids on a government training scheme – but they had to go after a year or they got expensive. Shame, but business is business. I’d keep one or two girls there who knew what they were doing. I didn’t pay top rates, to be honest, but the thing is they were desperate for the work. So everyone was happy, weren’t they?

Me? – I didn’t really have to work at all, what with the salary my Phil brought in. He was in banking. The sort of job you wondered what he did all day. We lived in a nice little place just out of town – well, I say “little,” but we’re talking six en suites and a swimming pool so it’s not as if we had nothing to show.

I couldn’t have sat at home poking flowers in a vase, though. That’s just not me. So Phil set me up with the salon, and that’s how “Monique’s” was born. My name’s Monica, but I thought “Monique” sounded classier.

We always watched our money, mind you. Take having children. Never been particularly keen, myself. I remember one time Phil mentioning it, and me saying, “Do you realise it costs £300,000 to bring up one measly kid?” I read that somewhere. I tell you – I saw my Mum struggling to bring up four kids, and I wasn’t going there.

So me and Phil were free as birds, and doing all right. And then I found a little sideline.

It all started with Mandy, one of the senior stylists who worked at “Monique’s.” She came to me one day, about a week before pay day, saying the baby hadn’t been well and she’d been caught out with this massive heating bill – could I give her a bit of pay in advance?

Well, I wasn’t having that – “Don’t be daft,” I told her, “you’ll only be worse off this time next month.” So off she goes to a loan shark, and gets her money off him. There was a load of interest on it, but she paid back the lot – luckily for her there was overtime at the salon that month, although she did look a bit knackered by the end.

And that got me thinking – I could do that. Lending money, I mean. Sounds like an easy way to earn a bit, if you’ve got something to start with.

So I started offering my services at the salon. “Nobody needs know anything about it,” I’d say to the girls. “Take your time paying me back.” Of course I didn’t mean that last bit. We had a deal, and I wasn’t going to let them off coughing up on time. And the extra.

 I’d watched that documentary on telly about bailiffs going in and taking people’s stuff, and I thought that’s a job for my brother Dave. Dave’s like a Rottweiler – looks as if he’d eat you alive but soft as soap really. Big as a bus. All it took was Dave turning up on the doorstep and there was no more fuss about settling up.

Word spread and I soon had a nice little earner. You’d think when the girls heard about Dave scaring the pants off defaulters they might think twice, but no. They kept coming to me, thinking they’d be able to pay up when the time came. They’d have that bit more money next week, or next month. So it went on.

Only thing was, my Phil wasn’t too keen on the idea. “We don’t need it,” he said. “We got plenty. The salon’s going fine. You could even afford to up their pay.”

“You keep out of it,” I said. “This is my business and I’ll run it how I like. I don’t want you turning round and saying how I’ve always lived off you.”

Then Tracy started giving me grief. She was my chief stylist at the time so not doing badly, but she did have three little kids and her husband had gone off years ago. Or he might have died. I can’t remember, to tell you the truth.

She’d already had a couple of loans from me and always managed to find the money by the deadline, so it was a surprise when she didn’t make it this time. I went round to her place, partly to put a bit of pressure on and partly to suss out what she had worth taking in lieu.

She lived in a right miserable place. Typical tower block – graffiti on the doors and smell of wee on the stairs. I knocked on her door and she peered round it. She’s got long dark hair and big innocent blue eyes. Makes you sick. There was a kid crying in the back.

Well, she let me in and gave me the usual sort of hard-luck story about how her little boy had been in hospital across town and she’s had to pay God knows what in fares to visit him. He was back home now, she said, so she’d be able to clear her debt in a couple of weeks.

All the time she was talking I was looking round the flat, and she didn’t have much, I can tell you. Not even a decent telly – amazing. Except – and I’ve got an eye for an antique – she had a nice little table under the window and a glass-fronted cabinet in the corner. Old but classy.

Tracy wasn’t stupid though, and she saw me looking. “Don’t take those,” she said. “They came from my Mam. They’re sentimental value.”

She started crying then, but I wasn’t budging. “They’re worth a bit, too,” I said to her, “and you can’t afford sentimental.” So off I went to fix things up with Dave.

Only it never happened, did it? On the day I was going round for Tracy’s stuff, I got home and Phil was gone. I mean really gone. I mean coathangers-rattling-in-the-wardrobe-and-a-note-on-the-mantlepiece gone.

It turned out he’d met Tracy ages ago when she’d come round to the house to try and persuade me to give her more time with repayments. He’d even helped her out with the money. Later on he told me all about it. One thing had led to another, he said. He knew he wanted to be with her, but now she was having his baby, and that had swung it.

“You didn’t waste much time,” I said.

“I’ll see you all right for money, Monica,” he said. “I won’t let you suffer.”

My first reaction was to take it out on the other girls who owed me money. Mandy, for one. Dave and I paid a visit, and we were going through Mandy’s place like a dose of salts.

Then a funny thing happened. I was lifting her mirror down from over the fireplace – another family heirloom, nice piece of goods with a silver frame – when I caught sight of my reflection in the glass. I damn nearly dropped the thing, but something inside told me “No. Go on – have a look.”

And I saw myself as I was – pushing forty, stinking rich, hard as nails. Then I thought of Tracy, with everything money can’t buy – youth, kids, the love of a good man. And I began to think – if money’s all you’ve got, you haven’t got much.

I put the mirror back on the wall, and called Dave off. And from that moment I knew there were going to be changes made.

And I was going to start with Monique’s.

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Voices from The Well

The Well, situated in a quiet road  in Easton , provides a rare and much needed facility – a supported house for women exiting the sex industry or at risk of becoming involved with it. Nearly all have had drug or alcohol dependency problems, and some have been in prison. The women here are safe, comfortable and cared about, but everyone concerned continues to learn and adjust to their experiences and needs….

Sarah says –

My problem is drinking. If it wasn’t for The Well I’d be homeless now.
I’ve been doing fine here. People say I’m looking better. I’ve done courses at College and voluntary work with old people. But I always get to a certain stage and then it gets hard. For the first few months it’s really nice – lovely surroundings, and talking to the staff is such a relief. The house holds you safe for a while – then you have to start doing it for yourself, and it’s so hard to get the incentive. I get stuck – I don’t feel I’m moving on. Then I get negative and I know this could send me back to the drinking. This is a safe place, but sometimes I don’t feel safe in my head.
The thing is about working on the streets – you get sick of doing it but you don’t get bored – there’s something to work for and look forward to, even if it’s only the drugs. Sometimes I feel the fight’s gone out of me.
What I need to do now is to move up a level – to find something that really matters. It’s not a relationship I want. I need to find something for myself. That’s the difficulty.

Leanne says –

    There’s nothing like The Well in the town I come from. I’d just come out of prison, after breaching an ASBO for prostitution. If I hadn’t come here I’d have gone back to a house with other addicts, and straight back on the streets.    It’s good to be here, but it’s a problem to adjust. There’s the difficulty of living on far less money than you’re used to; my benefit’s around £102 for two weeks – I used to earn that in half an hour.
Sometimes I miss life in the fast lane – the night life. I know it sounds stupid but I miss the excitement of meeting punters and not knowing what’s going to happen.
    Getting back to normality is hard – doing the same domestic stuff every day, without the excitement. On the streets I’ve been robbed, battered, raped – I never knew whether this was the last car I would ever get into, and my parents would get that phone call. Once I had a gun waved in my face. It sounds stupid, but it was exciting. I never thought about the danger at the time, but I did when I was in prison.
        So what makes it worthwhile? In the last few months I’ve been able to have a relationship again with my four children and the rest of my family. I’ve been going to college, and I’ve got a boyfriend. The boundaries are there for a reason, and if I’ve achieved so much in a few months, what can I achieve in two or three years?
    It’s worth it – that’s the message I want to give. It is worth it.

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There was a young girl…

Candice

 

There was a young girl who thought she was hip on the street,

Till she had the police chasing her all over their beat,

She shattered their helmets and tattered their clothes,
Knocked one pig’s spectacles clean off his nose,

Till one day she ended up in a police cell,

And thought “Now I’ll end up in prison as well,”

Now she wishes she hadn’t made all those threats
After drinking that alcohol – or was it meths?

Now stood in the dock, and smelling of fear
Trying desperately not to shed a tear –

“I’m afraid” said the judge “I must make it quite clear
You can’t get away with that sort of thing here.”

“I can and I will!” the young girl she said,
“And I don’t give a fuck if it’s prison,” she said,

“Nor if I’m feeding on water or bread.
I don’t give a toss for your cold prison cell,

And your bars and your bolts and your handcuffs as well.
I’ve never been one to do just as I’m bid,

So stick me in prison and see if I care!”

So they did.

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