We grew up on the sharp edge of poverty
rebal with a cause of our own
repelling authority, society, reality
followed a path of wildness sown.
They said, we had perfect hips
Was good for nothing but having kids
One dad, two, three, maybe four
Poverty cycle, repeating the poor.
We succeeded at failing, came top of our class,
Sipped on cidar from our childhood flasks.
No need to worry, no need to fret,
At sixteen we become part of Britain’s great debt.
Teachers never bothered, the head didn’t care,
No one even noticed when we stopped going there.
We wore indifference across our lips
prostitute red, layer on layer, glossy and slick.
And when time suddenly came, exams taken,
Sixteen went past, future forsaken
Some of us fell, hips wide and bearing,
New life created in a career of caring.
Some of us paused in a psychodelic dream
Locked between worlds with adulthood to fear.
Me? I had failure at hand, expectations to break,
So I picked up the books and read by the lake.
They said I couldn’t, I was all hips and blue eyes, that’s all,
I accepted their words, I’d most probably fall.
I didn’t aim for the top, just a life with a view,
A place where I’d happily dream skies of blue.
They said “You’ll work in a shop, and not a thing more”
And soon I was a manager, they were right for sure…
But I kept going forward had stereotypes to destroy,
Whispered through days kept my dreams coy.
I climbed and rose, walked on painted tippy toes,
No place for the poor done good, I wrote my own life show.
There’s a glass roof for women unbreakable you see,
An etched line for the men, a reality,
not a battle of wits, wisdom or intelligence,
No, its a line that demands female defiance…
But poverty has no glass, just hips
and glossy red lips,
No succeeding, just expectations of failing,
You either fail at school and fight for a life,
Or fail at babies and become no-ones wife.
My roots are seeped in the stench of poverty,
Skyscrapers, someone else’s reality,
They set a standard, the poor girls target,
dreams are only for the rich they say
use the gifts God gave you that day…
They said I was good for nothing
all blue eyes and hips for kids to bring…
My Dad said, girl, do you see that star?
No I said, we ain’t taught to look that far…
He said, keep walking till you have that in sight,
That my girl, is your glass ceiling, that, is your light…
Karen Hayward ©2018
Image found on pinterest