The Therapist and The Drunk by Penny Shutt

(After T.S Eliot)

?

We are not so different you and I

when the evening is spread out against the sky,

you, the vagrant with the dog and the cardboard sign

and me the slave to the system you despise.

?

These four walls close around us with the same oppressive weight,

the difference lies in how we live our days.

You shrug it all off, abandon your mind,

but I abandon myself, and which is really the worst of these?

?

I seek no end of therapy

for the loss of all that you were handed

when your child was handed to me.

Yet all you seek is more excuses.

?

We are not so different you and I

the hollow-eyed drunk in the shop doorway

and the vacant-eyed professional, clicking down hospital corridors,

one swipe to exit this place I walk like a fraud amidst all I fear,

earning extra on the side to decide

those who should have their freedom revoked – justified

by nature or degree?from those who get released

into the night- because how you live is deemed

not an illness?but a choice.

I shell out hundreds for a single room on week-long writing retreats

to find the space to be?who I really am

but you need only a guitar and a sleeping bag to be you.?

?

We are not so different you and I

when the evening is spread out against the sky,

you, the vagrant with the dog and the cardboard sign

and me the slave to the system you despise.

?

You cry out your bleary lyrics into the night

whilst I crowd mine into leather-bound notebooks,

between patients I have the arrogance to think

I can fix.???

?

I crawl through my 9-5 days for my paycheque from The Man

my only vice – something most would call harmless

but if faced with giving it up or losing this child I cannot honestly tell you

I could stop.???????????????????????

?

See, we are not so different you and I

when the evening is spread out against the sky,

you, the vagrant with the dog and the cardboard sign

and me the slave to the system you despise.

Penny Shutt

Penny Shutt

Dr. Penny Shutt is a poet and psychiatrist who writes in secret between patients on her NHS laptop and runs poetry therapy workshops in her spare time. She won the Psychiatry Research Trust poetry competition in 2013 and has received several shortlistings for her collection about becoming the guardian to her brother's child.
Penny Shutt

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