Healing Words

Mike Church Anita  Graham

Healing Words was a partnership project between GARTH (Gwent Arts in Health, a charity that promotes arts and health activities for patients and the general public in healthcare and community settings in the Gwent Healthcare NHS Trust area), Academi, Head4Arts and Arts Alive. The target groups were service users with mental health issues.

The aims of this project were to run creative participatory poetry workshops and related arts activities that facilitate shared writing, with adults and young people from the communities of Blaenau-Gwent. The outcomes of the project were a series of poster poems that formed local exhibitions in libraries, Blaenau-Gwent healthcare settings and any other appropriate local venues.

It worked with three organisations providing mental health services in the borough including Ysbyty’r Tri Chwm, HAFAL and Mentro Allan. The groups worked with poets Mike Church, Anita Flowers andGraham Hartill to create poetry which was used to inspire images working with artists Tim Rossiter, Tessa Waite and Kate Raggett.

The project included an event on Thursday 8 October 2009 – National Poetry Day. This took place in the Outpatients Hall at Nevill Hall Hospital, Abergavenny, the district general hospital that serves Blaenau-Gwent. Participants, their families, partner organisations and staff were invited to view the artwork and to hear readings of the poems and any music produced during the project. The poster poems were displayed there and locally in Blaenau-Gwent for a period following the event.

Poems created with Mike Church at Ysbytyr Tri Chwm:

The Suitcase

There it sits on the floor
Go on open it
Who knows what’s inside?
Maybe there’s a pile of holiday clothes
Or a dictionary of words
Some words for today
Maybe there’s a ventriloquist’s dummy – a chirpy old man
There might be the loneliest bank book in the world
Or a half eaten cheese and tomato sandwich
There might be some yoghurt in a thermos flask
Or a ticking device…ticking
There might be a mobile phone for emergencies
Or a comfortable pair of shoes
With socks and pants stuffed inside
Go on open that suitcase
There might be some handcuffs…all pink and furry
Or a real parrot that can hold its breath for long journeys
Or maybe there is a mystery ring
There might be some dark glasses for anonymity
Or a fully operational brain
There might be an umbrella for those rainy days
Or a bucket and spade in case there’s sand
There might be a small bottle of whisky
To ease the nerves and for medicinal purposes
And there might be a pinch of Dutch courage
Or an atlas of the world
And a tin opener to let you in where you want to go
Go on open that suitcase
There’s a world of possibilities
And you won’t know about any of them
Unless you open it and find out
So go on
Open that suitcase…please

Lost and Found

They found an old teacher’s jacket
In the stock room of the school
And in the pocket they found
A cane for the good old days
And a ruler as back up
They found a board rubber
In case the cane or the ruler hadn’t got them
Failing that they found sharpened chalk
And a red pen to criticise and humiliate
Any young and new ideas
They found a sheet for doing 3000 lines
And a confiscated dead mouse
Along with a cow’s eye
Best not to ask why
They found a forgotten child from 1947
And an abandoned childcatching van
There were 223 unclaimed catapults
And a book of names to reduce children to tears
And there was a whistle to keep all in line
All inside an old teacher’s jacket
In the stock room of the school

Brief Thoughts on a Brick

A brick can be used to build
And used as a weapon
There is good and evil in every brick
A brick is a brick
and so much more

It can be a step up
Or the leveller down
It can be a doorstop
Or an elephant’s foot
You can use it in a rockery
Or as a work of art
You can write your memories on it
Or even the occasional poem
There are Tredegar bricks
And bricks from Katmandu
A brick is a brick and so much more

It can be a provider
As a handy home for hamsters or insects
It can be ballast
Or the start of a barbecue
It can save water in a cistern
Or save embarrassment
With a spare key underneath
It can be a hosepipe holder
Or a mousetrap
Or a camping seat
You can get different coloured bricks
Half bricks and whole bricks
A brick might be your only friend
And doesn’t do yelling or criticism
You can warm a brick
As in times gone by
Or you can cook on it
Put candles on it
Or use it as an egg cup
You can grow herbs on it
Or decorate it
Or you could make stilts from it
Or hold a tent down with it
You could even create your own Olympics
With 26 brick events

So all in all it’s not just another brick in the wall
A brick is it’s own brick
And so much more

Crime and Punishment

Mrs Hiscox was a stickler
Reminded me of Hitler
When she wanted quiet
Her face went red
She wanted hands on head
But one day instead
I had to wipe my nose
And there she goes
With one flick of the wrist
She never missed
It was the cane there and then
You wouldn’t want that again

The Door

Go and open the door
And you might find
A man with an axe
Or a cup of tea with a ham sandwich
You might see Frankie Vaughan at the piano
Or there might be yet another green door
Or a dog biting a postman’s arm
There might be a priest with a angel chopping his head off
Or a rack of hanging coats
There might be three hungry children wanting dinner
Or a rusty old tandem bike
Go on open the door
There might be curtains hiding a baseball bat
Or the edge of the world
There might be a picture of a girl and a dog playing on the grass
Or a magic carpet
Or there might be Santa disappearing up a fireplace
Or a man with a suitcase waiting in the hall
Go on open the door
There might be a cat chewing a daffodil
Or a consultant with six other unopened doors
It’s a mystery
For me and for you
Isn’t it great
The world has so many doors

Take my advice

Never give anyone advice
If you were to give anyone advice
Don’t go on first appearances
And remember
A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush
Be content with what you’ve got
Be tolerant
And remember
A belly-aching calf will soon forget its mother
Never judge a book by its cover
And talk, talk, talk
Turn the television and computers off
And never put things off
Don’t be a procrastinator and
If you love someone, tell them every day
Because tomorrow’s not promised to anyone
And remember to
Give and take
And warrateg – fair play
It takes two to quarrel so walk out of rooms
And remember
Things said in haste shouldn’t be said
It’s important to love and be loved
Judge not and you’ll not be judged
And remember
Never ever give anyone advice

A thousand and one unanswered questions

Why do we exist just to live and die?
What is at the end of the tunnel?
Do we have a guardian angel?
Why does garlic smell the way it does?
Who on earth invented money
And what happened to good old fashioned bartering?
Why do bananas grow banana shaped?
Who made God?
And why do we all look so different?
Why do we look like we do when we’re undressed and naked?
Why do naked men look so comical when they’re running?
How would the Olympics look if all the events were naked?
Why have we suddenly become obsessed with all things naked?
Mirror,mirror on the wall who really is the fairest of them all?
Why do we buy things that fit catalogue models but never fir the rest of us?
Why are there pockets in shrouds?
Why are people who’ve got everything never content?
Why are there so many unanswered questions?

If you’re the marrying kind

If you’re the marrying kind
Don’t marry someone you think you can change
Or who is obsessed with changing you.
Don’t marry someone who spends all day on the computer
Or someone who wants you
To have a tattoo you don’t really want
Beware someone who is continually plumping your cushions
And don’t marry someone who wants you
To enjoy watching them locking the door
Don’t marry someone who is obsessed with time
Or has more piercings than a pin cushion
Or someone who wants a doormat you can’t wipe your feet on
If you are the marrying kind
Then don’t marry a man who doesn’t put the toilet seat back up
Or a woman who has less money than you
Don’t marry someone who doesn’t take a blind bit of notice
Or who’s more interested in the workplace than the home
Don’t marry someone unless you know the truth behind the smile
Or unless you know the stag nights and hen nights are finally over
Don’t marry a man whose homecoming words are ‘What’s for dinner?’
If you are the marrying kind
Watch out for those with short arms and deep pockets
Never go to bed on a row
And always kiss goodnight
If you are the marrying kind
Make the most of these words
And then make it last.
The Good Old Days

They don’t have fun like the old days
Now it’s all computer games, joysticks and playstations
In the good old days
The outdoor days
We were happy stamping in puddles
Kicking up autumn leaves
Making mud pies
And losing our socks in our wellies
We’d come down hills on cardboard in summer
Or on the back of a shovel all year round
We’d do roly polys down the bank
Slide down branches
Or play hopscotch with chalk
In the good old days
We’d play shadows by candlelight for hours in bed
Or make a tent with a blanket
So under the table became a ship or submarine
We’d play ring-a-ring-a-roses
Then eat slab cake and lump sugar
And play shop
And scrump apples
And knock doors
We’d put penny bangers up drainpipes
In the good old days
Now it’s all computer games, joysticks and playstations
But we remember the good old days
When we were happy stamping in puddles
When a bit of dirt never hurt

The Brick

We’ve talked about you, laughed about you
Stared at you, cared about you
Weighed you and handled you
Nearly dropped you but you are still a brick
Now I understand why people say when someone
Is in trouble, a person who helps is said to be a brick
Maybe it is not such a bad thing to be
Hurrah for the good old brick