Better by Laylah Hough


Raised pressure releases silent streams of tears
Biological surrender to irrational, invisible fears
Remaining childlike eternally despite ageing in years
College staff tried to stop the panic rising
“Don’t worry, you’re deserving, always revising,
Conserve your energy and stop apologising!”

A few crumbs short of the full biscuit
Branded by one as “emotionally autistic”
Seemingly dumb and trusting, with deficiencies in adjusting
An unnerving inability to cope with transitions
No passion, no creativity, no visible ambitions
Other than just being better than this

Psychology nurtured my understanding and empathy
Necessary but not sufficient, I’ve seen
Though my mind’s willing, obliging, and keen
I remain without use and efficacy
What does it take to set friends and family free?
To soften the grip of their crippling reality
Though taught the value of compassion and care
I’m still awkwardly, mutely standing there
Averting my eyes to prevent unwanted stares
Hoping unsaid words are telepathically shared

Disappointing that parents so intelligent and warm
Produced this hopeless, depressing life form
With a face dull, bovine and slack
Social development so far off track
I just want to find the “something” that I lack
Despite awareness of danger, threat and attack
I stay frozen, bound, unable to fight back

Stumbling through the fog of internal chatter
It took some convincing that my feelings mattered
People thought they could flatter me into submission
That they had permission to repeat destructive trends
To misappropriate and misuse psychology for unethical ends

University reinforced the value of reason and science
The need to question and break free from compliance
Friends and staff were a sea of enthusiastic voices,
Empowered by friendship, morality and our right to choices

Likewise Luton’s alternative scene
Embraced acceptance and individuality as ongoing themes
Since childhood, I’ve been greeted by familiar faces
Appreciators of politics, bands and safe spaces

Enlivened by the endorphins music provides
My internal monologue occasionally subsides
I might have to dance with eyes closed
Eccentric, robotic, in my own world
Limbs moving in random sequences
Not always following rhythm or melody
Clumsy and strange, but happy and free

In the absence of miracles and quick solutions
Writing focuses and grants some absolution
Hope that I may gain the skills that I lack
Get my social development back on track
Become a bit better than this

by Laylah Hough