Interview at the DWP by Pauline Sewards

Policemen have more manners than these women,
who, with their thin lips and delicate lockets
are guardians of the nation’s purse.

They are strangers to pity, manglers of language,
spit dry words in a parody of trial
after fussing with the double tape recorder

which is alleged to make everything fair
they trick with their trip up questions
probe for perfect recall of dates and actions

an interrogation of self righteous proportions
based on a neighbour’s spite. I see a proud man
disintegrate, feel his whisky thirst, his rising shame,

on seeing played back to him like a dirty secret,
a walk without crutches shown crime-watch style,
each step highlighted with a laser pointer.

No film of the courage it took to attempt this
or the pain he felt for days afterwards.
He is called on to account for himself

by the jobs-worth judge and jury, I bear witness
my mouth buttoned up by protocol,
want to howl for the right to be human.

Pauline Sewards works in health care and lives and performs poetry in Bristol and London. Her poems have been published in small press magazines including South Bank Poetry and Domestic Cherry. She has hosted several poetry readings at the Torriano Meeting House in Kentish Town.

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