Ward 35: Oncology

Posted: December 5, 2017 in Poetry
For Auntie Jenny
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the room is like an airport
departure lounge
except we’re all dreading
what comes next
I guess a few might anticipate
the spreading of wings
but my faith crash-landed
in the Bermuda Triangle
two and a half decades back
some people have brought snacks
some stare through the TV screen
portal to a dimension where
none of this is happening
our group is trying to laugh
along with the people trying to joke
most of whom wear dressing gowns
the feisty eighty-two-year-old
whose treatment has her
spewing out innuendoes
the old guy with the worried wife
an empty space and a bag for life
to take home instead of a bladder
the long-haired guy with leg tattoos
hooked up to an IV drip
that buzzes like a text message
every four seconds
the temperature is too muggy
so we’ve opened two windows
onto the discovery that
the maternity ward is right below
and the irony of new life
being forced into the world
screams and grunts in pain
the feisty lady has to strain
to hear Emmerdale over it
my auntie’s sister has six kids
and yells down ‘go on, girl, PUSH!’
she tells us ‘it’s like having a big shit’
then takes her seat again
I wince at the storyline
on Emmerdale: the doctor
was fooling around
with a young lass
so some guy got a fake all-clear
but really he has testicular
C- word
‘the OTHER C-word’
cackles the eighty-two-year-old
‘although cancer IS a cunt!’
and then covers her mouth
‘oh’
it’s the first time
her face has shown
anything but mischief
‘sorry again
about your aunt’
the fish tank in the corner
is so vibrant with life
it hurts our eyes
those little guys make breathing
and motion look easy
hours pass
in this room and one other
and soon it is time
to say goodbye
it now resembles more
an airport entrance
since some of us get to
wave
walk out
leave
and go home
and the remainder have to face
their scary journeys alone
dressing gowns
instead of suitcases

__

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Walk to Work

Posted: November 10, 2017 in Poetry
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Jimi Hendrix said it best:
Excuse me, while I kiss the sky.
Autumn is so dangerous, you guys.
This morning, I fell in love
with some trees, two squirrels
and a patch of blue and purple haze,
as I inhaled the day’s school-traffic fumes.
Each of those relationships: doomed
from the start. Non-consensual.
See, I know (better than some!) not to touch.
But would it do any harm
to ask the tree for a hug,
and offer the squirrels a taste of my nuts?

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Projector

Memories: riddles.
Brain teasers. Must be handled
with care; mind-tweezers.
Can accidentally
get overwritten. Damaged.
Lost like a mitten.
Smeared. Smudged. Blown out of
proportion. Revised. Censored –
out of shame/caution.
Safest stored within
plastic, pages turned seldom.
Then, when we’re ‘past it’ –
all else wrinkled and
slowed, those slides, preserved, put on
entertaining shows;
flicker and whir – life’s
highlights play. Ever confused,
‘til our dying day.

 

C o n v e r s a t i o n
sticks in my throat
the words are plastered
to the roof of my mouth
like communion wafers
so I take a shot of red wine
then another
and another
and another
and oops,
here we go, making confessions
all over the place.
I’m not even Catholic.

 

red wine

Cuckoo Spit

Posted: August 30, 2017 in Poetry
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cuckoo-spit

Is cuckoo spit still
a thing?  I used to live much
closer to the ground,
used to belly-grub
in the mud, eyes on grass stalks;
flutter-follow bugs;
air-lift to safety
ants on a mission; notice
rain spotting the leaves.
And now, I haven’t
reached society’s great heights,
but it’s harder to
see eye-to-eye with
nature when you’re taller, locked
in place like the trees.
Is cuckoo spit still
a thing? If not, somebody
has gobbed in that hedge.

rollercoaster

If “life is a roller-coaster”,
Your thirties are the steep incline before the drop:
Everything takes that little more effort,
Brace yourself, white-knuckle strain;
The goal is in view,
But you won’t spend long at the top.
And you’re thinking ahead, to when it all stops.

Lousy

Posted: June 25, 2017 in Poetry
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the way the woodlouse
in my bathroom moves
reminds me of video game characters,
when it’s my turn to grip the controller.
he keeps trying to climb up walls
that are unclimbable;
keeps struggling his way up dead-ends
and having to reverse;
is trying to move as fast
as his many little legs will go,
before being visible gets him killed.
in the eye of the beholder,
all our endeavours are pointless.