Thursday, 03 October 2019 08:37

National Poetry Day: Phineus and the Quest for Personal Independence Payment

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National Poetry Day: Phineus and the Quest for Personal Independence Payment

Phineus and the Quest for Personal Independence Payment

by Alan Morrison

Episode One: Phineus Among the Harpies

The appeal was refused by the tribunal, the tribunal numbered
Three: an insouciant judge, a glacial lawyer, and a GP
Who wilfully misinterpreted him, pinned him at cross-purposes,
Kept making a point of his insight and articulacy -
Qualities going against his case, as if to imply the mentally
Afflicted must be stupid, when it's almost always the opposite case,
Her assumption that intelligence bestows prolific phrenic
Equipment to cope with any symptom of mind, even
The ego-dystonic, a term he'd picked up from some foxed
Blue-spined Pelican (pain makes its own experts), attempting
To explain the impetus of Pure Obsessional Disorder:
That it matters not one whit whether he would act on his
Intrusive thoughts, present risk, this bore no relevance
To the intensity of distress, the inexorable anxiety
Rooted in uncertainty, ever-mutating symptomatology,
A mind besieged by obsessions*; something about him caused
Them umbrage, the three 'impartial' panel members, apparently
'Independent' from Independent Assessment Services
(Atos formerly), and the DWP; pernickety Harpies
Handpicked for nitpicking pedantry, pecking at the scraps of his
Incapacity - he, hapless Phineus, half-crippled by phobias;
Supposed experts deciding his entitlement, or not,
To Personal Independence Payment (PIP (excuse the parentheses));
They even used his avoidance behaviours to argue that he was
High-functioning in spite of therapists' emphases that these
Repetitious rituals are symptoms not coping mechanisms
That retard healing of psychical scars; he might have quoted
Kierkegaard, something along the lines that all the torments
Of the damned pale in comparison to anxiety: excoriating
Guilt of the innocent, gut-aching angst** in the absence of an act
(Hamletic hesitation), spent nerves of no event, but that
Would have also gone against him - as it did that he went
To university, and, more intrusively, that creative writing
Was his 'hobby' (how suburban that sounded!) which makes him
Probably a bit bohemian, thus unreliable, rebellious, anti-
Establishment, and while he might convince as an idiot savant,
He'd obviously been embroidering the truth to a more threadbare brocade
When claiming he was number-blind, they pointed out he'd
Have had to tackle statistics while studying Sociology -
Not as far as he could recall, but in any case he'd later changed
To Ancient History... At school it took until he was fourteen
To see what the clock face had so long been trying to tell him,
A lightning-struck Damascene of horology! Now Old Chronos
Could no longer cock a snook - a little death erupted in him then,
A peripheral epiphany, still trapped in fight or flight of tick -
Tock neuroticism permanently ruminating on past and future,
Never mentally in the present, temporally absent, but at last
Able to tell the time without having to guess, now everything
Pressed more urgently, reassurance at least in grasping
That suffering was time-limited as contribution-based benefits.

* This is a tautology: the Latin root obsessus means besieged.
** From the Latin: angere: to choke.

 

DWP
Read 268 times Last modified on Thursday, 03 October 2019 10:40

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