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A Kick In The Teeth Bristol City Poet Kat Lyons

Bristol City Poet

Written by Kat Lyons

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Bristol City Poet Kat Lyons reflects on economic inequalities, the struggling NHS, and the link between the two in their new poem.

Kat Lyons wrote A Kick In The Teeth for all the former patients of Bupa Dental Care in St Pauls, which recently closed. It was the last place with NHS dental provision in the area – and the nearest one is now over 50 miles away. Find out more about the protests here.

Lyons wrote this poem shortly after the 75th birthday of the NHS. ‘I don’t usually do rhyming couplets’, they said. ‘But it seemed to work with this one as the meter pulls it along with a sense of urgency.’

A Kick In The Teeth by Kat Lyons

It’s a kick in the teeth. It beggars belief
that our healthcare’s in jeopardy. Life is a lottery;
money and class will give you a pass
to a blinding white smile, but you’ll wait for a while
if you live in St Pauls. Poverty falls
where it’s always done, trickles down to the same parts of town.
Indignities stacked on the shoulders and backs
of the same old communities. Health inequalities
hitting the broke while they struggle to cope 
with rent and bills rising. It isn’t surprising
that people protest.
It’s trying its best
but our poor NHS
gets less and less able to cope with the depth
and the scope and the breadth
of the problems it’s facing.
The health of the nation
is under attack but St Pauls will push back,
will put up a fight,
will shout IT’S NOT RIGHT!
Neighbours and councilors raising their voices
for the thousands of people who depend on this service.
Children with cavities, old folks in pain,
speaking together with so much to gain, say:
Our dentists are closing and we are all losing
this race to the bottom. The system is rotten 

(While you wait to be seen, here’s your dental routine:
Brush three times a day,
don’t eat sugar,
and pray.)

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