Austerity and the Average, by Miki Byrne

Austerity sucks life from us.
Brings an unseemly scrabbling
for pounds and pennies.
Debt is a blade on desperate necks.
That falls at the turn of an interest rate.
It consumes, is unforgiving, brings fear,
sleepless nights.
We queue at food-banks,
our diet of shame sated by the pity of others.
Dignity fades, rubbed thin by attrition
and interviews.
Where the chance of work is tiny,
the threat of sanctioned benefits
ever-present.
We develop a cynical shell,
loth to give our best to thankless pursuits,
or the minimum wage, on unsafe,
zero-hour contracts.
Absence of security pays lip-service
to a work ethic.
Public service deteriorates,
erodes through disillusion.
We have no value.
Significance, respect, are rare coins
that change hands infrequently.
Those on the treadmill run.
Lose hope with every step.
Whilst the powers-that-be court their money.
Smile at new accumulations.
Send back tax returns,
fiddled to within an inch of our lives.

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