On any given day

When we kicked off this blog site we envisaged a creative space that challenged complacent doxa – that rattled a few cages and imagined a different social work in a world made both more equal and more free. We have chipped away at this all the way along – exploring the boundaries of what might be done. Recently we have experimented with podcast interviews – changing up from the usual run of opinion and commentary pieces. Today I though I’d provide another angle: woke up this morning with a prose poem in my head and needed to let it go …


On any given day

There’s a beggar on the street

Like the woman in New Lynn this morning – with no shoes and eyes like ball-bearings


Or a loose unit or two on the commuter-belt

Not quite tuned to the rhythm of the machine

Not quite configured to produce, consume, or serve


Like the guy on the train today – the one with the volume control malfunction

Self-maintenance manual misplaced or unreadable

No money, time, or map to find a technician


On any given day

Co-workers with eyes focused on personal projects – or minds adrift in far pavilions

A student, or two, with a puzzled frown and no words


And (of course) – embers, sparks and dangerous departures

Gaps and errors in the script

Flecks of light, lurches on the line

Little jarring, jerky, glitches in the matrix


Furtive grins of conspiracy 

No language yet

Hints passed in nods and eyebrow flickers

On any given day 


Mutterings – forbidden glimpses of human solidarity 

Like grainy old film rushes clattering erratically in some underground venue

Audience hooded and masked

Eyes skinned for the neoliberal Gestapo

No names / no evidence / no breaks in the chain


Image credit: Milan k



4 replies on “On any given day”

Thank you, Ian, for this lovely poem. But perhaps in the interests of more, rather than less, freedom and equality, as social workers we might desist from that academic habit of using Greek and Latin words in our writings. I imagine that, in 2021, there are only few who find words like doxa enhances their understanding.

Thanks for your comment Vincent. Yep, language a funny thing and the words we choose to use make a difference eh? Not to mention the tyranny of English.

We are complex animals – the texture and sound of language makes a difference too. I think poetry can be a useful way of speaking because it can be less stuck in rule-bound sense making and allows a space for the reader’s imagination.

It can be good for us – I think – to step out of our usual frames of meaning sometimes. We seem to need art and mystery and a bit of fun to escape from, or reckon with, the material and the mundane in a world of radical inequality where consumption is god.

The idea of the manufactured responsible ‘self’ – eyes front / mouth shut whenever the torn parts of the middle class capitalist social fabric are exposed – is the scourge of our times I reckon. And the profession of social work can be so bureaucratic and rational and pretentious it is in danger of suffocating under its own weight.

So, we do what we can to fight the good fight – each according to our means and look for solidarity where we can, yes? At least that is what I think this morning – and I am of course, a privileged human. Back to the grindstone Vince …

Thank you Ian for your creativity and poem. Today I joined an ANZASW podcast where discussed Creative reflexive social work practice. We also tried out a range of arts activities as we sat at our own desks miles apart from each other over zoom. It was cool. Finally our facilitator created a poem from the thread of comments wed created through the session. It was cool.

Thanks Rebecca – That does sound like fun. All kinds of art – often the best kinds – can be subversive – breaking the boundaries and opening fields of possibility – to see what might be. People need to create stuff – with others if possible – it is a way of taking back the future and understanding what has gone before. ‘Art’ is political and is often some form of ‘protest’. Its possibilities are contested like everything else … but it is not the property of the privileged and it can speak in all tongues. Which is part of the reason I think social work’s relationship to science can be problematic – lol – but enough from me …

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