A Bench Without a Name

My core temperature
has dropped
a few points –
Yes – I do allow for
seasonal differences

All the while
working timepieces
make veridical turns
between here and there –
ever evenly placed

like fixed hard chairs
in another time-sucking surgery
Sit with me –
It’s cold outdoors –
Stay – before my reminder to move

to face a dog-tired doctor
sat in another swivel chair
He / She will be leant forward
squinting – screen-reading
throughout my consultation

This giving wooden bench
faces due south
as if aimed by a pagan
rather than – truthfully –
at that required angle

to watch a ghost-stepped
amateur football match
After sitting in so many
bright muzak rooms
my huge catalogue

of Chairs Used
in Waiting Rooms
is now complete
[cancer wards excluded –
touch wood!]
I am ready to be published

Stud imprints in dragged mud
and ball-thumping boots
have mashed this playing field –
churned those naked goalmouths
with a good old-fashioned kicking

Standing is not too easy these days –
my cold bones
and low moans meet
Let us get to another bench
to talk some more about life

 

A Calling

It was a pile of bare facts
offered on thumbed A4 papers
She searched it whilst
suffering from acute self-diagnosis

but could only uncover Diverticulitis
there typed out and slid between
other printed sheets
filed in black dust-lined trays

whilst an old boy too-loudly
then too-brightly – grutched
far too-noisily about
his own complaint to a nurse

Consultants’ rooms
are time-flawed monasteries
of waiting – of slow duties – with prayer
and others’ voices bound to

callings to blind-pulled cells
in which our tired priests sit
But this is my wife’s summoning
to another saint-named place

And – again – an absolution follows
That necessary shrift to solve
discomforts set under our skin
and over our lives

and we are lucky – we leave
without having to see higher gods
for a second opinion
This referral is her small miracle

Conquest Hospital

Robert Richard Rollins –
I was born nineteen thirty-four
struggled with the name –
El-dwabe

He worried out loud
that he’d forget
the surgeon’s
Egyptian-sounding name

As he was wheeled –
backwards for ease
he again apologised
so profusely to the nurse

for his failure to recall
I forget names –
the consultant …
El-dwabe

Checks

Earth Wind & Fire boogie
in the muted waiting room
But no one dances here

Adverts for vaginal creams
and local dry cleaners
rotate on the large screen

A mother instructs her kid
The patience in her command
fails for ‘naughty little girls’

An elderly couple openly flirt
in the propped-wide doorway
and exchange a loud kiss

My hands turn numb and stiffen
as I wait my turn for ten minutes
of a qualified person’s attention

Immunisation


It enfolds you in its heated fug,
the wheeled threshold, the NHS hug;
we sit and wait in a digit-lit queue,
but old illnesses will still kill us all:

I went for my ‘flu jab: ‘Done in a jiffy
‘You may feel unwell, perhaps a bit sniffy’.
I’m now pricked against influenza’s grab,
at least for a year then Hunt’ll cut back:

November, next, what will be left?
They’ll have turned down the heating,
and give back less: As I fall apart,
so will the state, we are both diseased,
our futures degrade.


Jewel in the Crown


Rip it off from the past,
sliced on rusty nostalgia,
a span of heritage,
is this truthful disaster,
when history’s lost
pay old craftsmen to make
more bygones-be-bygones,
real genuine fakes:
Bow to the Crown Jewels,
displaced paste from the past,
profited and traded,
‘cross an empire, so vast;
flaunt valuable rocks,
but sell free-to-use jewels,
those men in blue suits
from the right schools.


 

Well

It was first called ‘Welfare’
by a proud state,
no more ideal,
we are now told to berate:

Ever less likely to be
paid to me,
freelance, with Parkinson’s,
at fifty-three.

Welfare, not there, services sold,
uprooting the ill, the poor, the old:
Any vacuum is filled, so it is said,
but they’ll suffocate welfare until it’s dead:

One nation built high
on the backs of the old,
we should pay more in tax
so our welfare’s not sold.