Occupy Poetry

Clapson's Cap

BY Alan Morrison

Clapson’s Cap
i.m. David Clapson (1952-2013)

Her son, compelled, the country's foes had fought,
Had bled in battle; and the stern control
Which ruled his sinews and coerced his soul
Utterly poisoned life's unmingled bowl,
And unsubduable evils on him brought.

‘A Tale of Society as It Is: From Facts, 1811’ by Percy Bysshe Shelley

‘Sorry for your loss but no errors were made’
Only those within the margins of human decency –
Well outside the remit of the Dee Double-u Pee,
Only Work Programmes and the worst laid schemes;
No searching of consciences, only search engines on bogus
Job sites of phantom vacancies, and plenty of penalties,
Plethora of sanctions, interrogations, black spots –
And threats of all these; dockets for food banks,
Sticks without carrots, punishments, punishments,
Roll up, roll up for punishments –all at the expense
Of soul-and-body nourishments: treat the poor and
Unemployed as if they were pirates ransacking
The public purse (supplied by “hardworking taxpayers”),
Daylight-dodgers rolling giros, Black Dog “Scroungers”;
Make the unemployed walk the plank, Nudge ’em, nudge ’em,
Keelhaul ’em; and as for those malingerers, keep on
Their case, badger them –Sheriff stars for badges, Targets,
Targets, throw Atos darts at ’em, “disrupt and upset” them;
Cap their benefits, splice the mainbrace, clap them in
Irons of no income, as they did with Clapson:
Penalised for missing a jobcentre appointment, stripped
Of his £71.70 weekly allowance, died penniless
And half-starved at 59, collapsed from ketoacidosis
Because he couldn’t chill his life-sustaining insulin
In the fridge for the electricity had been cut off as a result
Of losing his benefits, all for missing one single appointment
On the Work Programme… This diabetic ex-soldier who’d
Served in Northern Ireland at the height of the Troubles,
But whom no tours of duty on fractious bullet-cracking
Belfast streets could prepare for the front line of domestic
Cuts under Iain Duncan Smith’s punishing welfare regime;
So much for poppies and patriotism, for saying “We
Will remember them”, when this vindictive government
Is so quick to forget them; the countless souls as Clapson:
No “scrounger”, he’d worked and paid his taxes for 29
Years –done Cameron’s “right thing”– and looked after his
Sick mother, thus saving thousands for “the taxpayer”,
Then, on her entering a care home, he lost his carer status
And was put on precarious benefits while he looked for
A job, and took up unpaid work placements… Clapson’s
Body was discovered in a sea of CVs and job applications,
Just £3.44 to his name, a tin of soup, half a dozen tea bags
And an out-of-date can of sardines, all that was left in
His larder –during the post-mortem the coroner noted
No food in his stomach, no food in… “Something for nothing”,
Something for no tins, but nothing in compensation for
His petitioning sister, no formal acknowledgement
Of ‘administrative manslaughter’, simply a paltry ‘apology’
As if issued from impartial mourners implicitly divorcing
Themselves from any culpability: ‘Please Omit Flowers’,
Please Omit Powers, Please Omit Responsibility…

‘Sorry for your loss but no errors were made’
The loss is to all of us, to our collective soul, our sense
Of “good old English decency” –what values have they who
Throw away lives of victims of impoverishment and
Incapacity for the sake of saving corpse’s pennies for
The taxpayers? We say not simply we will remember
Clapson, and the tens of thousands of fiscal sacrifices
To the satanic altar of austerity –but we say, all of us,
Afflicted today by Duncan Smith’s administrative massacre
Of the claimants, brandishing black triangles, giro stigmas,
And stars of David, with rustling wings of ominous brown
Paper envelopes, in the name of the Spartacus Report:
We are Clapson, We are Clapson, We are Clapson, We are…

‘Sorry for your loss but no errors were made’

Sorry for the errors but no loss was made

Tan Raptures (Smokestack Books, Feb 2017)


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