Most of Us by Miki Byrne

Most of us live in boxes, in a line.

Horizontal, vertical.

Shared walls bleed noise,

won’t hold a screw for the mirror

that shows a million tired faces.

There’s a cream-cracker yard

or a plastic pot for colour.

Meagre grass grows sour.

Or graffiti’d walkways skein

between flats where old folk

stay indoors after dark

and mothers cry

at their children’s choices.

Wring their hands at bad company and fear.

There’s a shabby row of maudlin shops

a cut-price supermarket and an offie.

A bus stops nearby, for a trip to the town

that frowns over its barnacle estates.


Most of us work at what we can.

In the black and the red.

Casual and quiet-

or through job-centre hoops,

that pin dignity to our sides with rules,

prising questions.

Most of us would love a little bit more.

For the girls wedding, school uniforms.

A night out with mates,

who play the same game.

While the twist in our gut, grows every day

of doing without and the only chance

is a lottery ticket that never comes up

but we hope. Always hope.

Most of us know wrong from right.

Can respect, respect.

Though we might blur the edges

but don’t big ourselves into crime

for  a sharp reputation.

We mind our own business.

Persevere day after day

and we’ll stay right here. Forever.


Speech Impediment by Miki Byrne

It sticks in your throat.

A lump too big

to be chewed down.

No spit mustered

for this unpalatable gulp.

I see it occasionally,

flitting through your head.

Banging at the back of your eyes

when you think of what you did.

You got close once,

began a short hiss.

Snake like,

sharp in its nipped-off syllable.

Then the word died.

Couldn’t be forced

from the airless cavern

of your mouth

into the atmosphere that hovered,

like a glass wall.

Impenetrable from your side,

open from mine.

You never tried again.

Never wanted the forgiveness

I would have wrapped you in.

If only you had said ‘sorry’.

Waiting for a DWP Disability Assessment by Miki Byrne

The night before,

I imagine their questions.

Expect interrogation.

Picture the suit, laptop,

eyes full of speculation.

He or she will not be a friend

and inside my stomach

a few hornets buzz

and will swarm  tomorrow.

I wonder how the state

expects me to prove a disability.

Their eyes cannot lie.

Nor medical evidence,

yet I must parade myself.

Become an exhibit,

fit under their  microscope.

I won’t sleep.

Can’t pre-guess them,

know their findings.

A sense of outrage simmers.

Who are they to doubt my word,

integrity, breach my privacy,

enter my home?

They call it convenience,


I feel assumptions,

unsaid accusations,

coming toward me like trains.

Worry about income cuts,

poverty, cold winters.

Hate their power

to change everything:

My future, my health and sanity,

my whole, fucking, life.