His Last Leaf

Frank Ormsby rarely writes –
only now by medicated spurs

set quick to the side effects
and his drugged obsessiveness

which are my nowhere-near-equals
to his northern placed verse

No more lined up by his diluted voice
Loud Frank left it at school

He opens up his vowel larder
of self-affirming stories

His Rasagiline’s rattle is double
of my dose – no ghosts yet

in the corner of my eye to fade
as Frank’s stand on his laid table –

then they briefly sit alongside him
until slipped back into mindful spaces

Frank works to avoid word boredom
with a poet’s fear of word silence

Fifty-five

Life has bleached my forehead to the bone

My alarm is set early
to nothing –
to a home solitude –
except for my youngest –
except for this word search
in my head
for that which is known –

it is known
and then decrepit thoughts
rattle loudly
over my grunting
down
each
stair –
So – fifty-five years of age
this month
but already the ghost
whom I fear

Four Years

Five-zero-three-fifteen –
my DX anniversary
of a ‘phone consultation
upon basal nigra’s role
in my slow-witted downfall
and other explanations
that Google had offered
over the previous few
years of not-knowing
how many search results
were not sponsored
by quacks and sawbones –
Now it is uneasy sleep
and dreams of running
which keep me turning up
to this annual event


The Word Cowboy

Out with no phone –
out without
that device which is
my ready-coiled rope –

a slack spiral – a bracelet
looped into a throwable
lifeline – unknottable –

loose for when needed –
for my amateur attempts
to lasso my lawless
thoughts –

Each born-weak twine
twisted over many
weak-born twines –
into a thousand strands –
into one unbreakable line –

Verb-spun into itself –
into a readied tethering
which will bear
me – my word weight –
which will tighten
without a tug or hanging –

There is a knowhow
to such coiling –
which was my first
apprenticeship –
which now –
is my last attempt at art


A Moment – Now

In bed – laid on the edge of tears –
but we all are deteriorating –
so these are self-pitying tears
barraged by
this slow use of bagged words –

and you hum a short phrase
as the mobile phones light
our thicker faces

before drawn curtains –
still excluding the morning
and holding back the rush of time –

then
a text showing our daughter skipping
atop The Hoover Dam – she is lightened
by the scale of the world

as we discuss how this
truly affects the state of things –
once the daylight is admitted


And Disorderly

He visits lost priests
to mumble-in-vain
for what?
His loose-lip prayers weave
over tremble-woven fingers –

This is the church –
this is the steeple –
look inside
and see the people –

God’s gatekeepers
cannot force the bolts –
not slammed
gavel-struck ones –
so he carries his sentence

out in public spaces
as drunken stumbles –
Ready the stocks
they mutter to others –
He is a convict clapped

in cold iron hobbles –
Of his own bad choices
manacles left visible
to every untrained eye –
they see another barfly


 

Valentine’s

I just took a taste of my waking breath –
it is no wonder then that we do not kiss –

The ugliness of my rum state
places bitter tilts upon our old arousals –

I lay whet by a glaze – an unwelcome stain
on this pushed back duvet of night sweats –

My chest gives birth to salty pearls – loosened
by gravity – set to roll down my bare sides

as trickles – as if wept from woundings –
like precious piercings – but not five holy jabs –

though I do feel pinned by a carried cross –
Do not glance at my nakedness – how I am fixed

by the invisible itches and riveted scars
on my legs – I draw up the bedding – my body bag –

and let my skin rest from your listless look –
instead – I shall watch you dress first – then

I will rise alone and not take in the looking glass
until I have washed off the vilde oozes of blood

which I have picked under the night’s disturbances –
those red fruits of my rough sleep’s self-harm


 

Utter

I have always suffered
a mild clumsiness –
just now – trying to read
that line back – aloud –
it got rooted in my mouth –
not stuck in my throat –
not in my swallowing –
that feared future loss –

but in the lip-and-tongue
place of speeches –
I now have to think
the form of the word
to make the shape
of its known weight –
to make it heard –
this is no deal I wish
as part of my illness –

I hear the precision
of the speech therapist –
his repeat of the exercises
which I had forsaken
until now – late in the day
as my words stick
like soft toffees and cake
among my loose teeth


 

In Earshot

I stopped – I heard the playful howls –
the breaktime hollers from a school –
but my ear-to-the-past
was then frittered by the wind’s shift

which rudely imposed on my
awareness the speeding hum
of rubber treads on the sunken bypass
and flat warnings of vehicle reversing
further dulling the innocent revels –

I lent on a wall – A much-needed breather
I would explain to anyone asking of
my unsteady condition –
To lift the cramps from my legs

and still – the shouts were blocked –
now by a car’s revs over rumbling humps –
but – as quick – the wind dropped
and I turned my head to the past –
once more -with closed eyes –

the blind man’s map – which had shaken
itself as if it were a sail unhitched
from eyelets –
was now doldrum-flat for me
and my sensed route
returned – I do not need to see the road

to know the course for me to rove –
in reverse – over five decades
without this shortened gait of illness – of mine –
I was never – then – one of those sick kids –

The schoolyard was set silent by the whistle –
then to giggled-at-desks – it was penny plain
as I took to learning and then to believe
that our futures were guaranteed to be huge –

I looked up at the vast blackboard and was lost
to calculations and big new words
that succour has been ignored for too long –
my concocted life has left me without
a belief in learning –

And if my first school was heaven – my chance
gone – then I know now – just by listening
that I can find the gates
and find my desk – again –
with my name etched by a held compass
till kingdom come

Parousia

This second life was ordained
by a drawn-out judgement –
an almost-expected epithet

for the quickened reductions
under my ever-thickening skin –
on dragged heels and hands –

Add Old Age’s uneven stockpile
of his enfeebling irritations
and so my time was reset –

And in this slowing restate
I cannot make any mistakes –
I cannot afford to fall heavily –

do not expect me to pick myself up
as quickly as the still-blessed do –
as I did before this epiphaneia

Übermensch

I will wake and fail to find my eased flux –
not without pushing up into discomfort
over breaths of ground-voice-as-grunts –
these announcements vex my tired wife
who needs sleep in my odd-roused hours

I sit upright – off the bed – to test myself
in the sweated night – I almost always assay
in the woken hours – contrasting the past –
adding to a never-published paper
about this ill-judged illness – it will devour

My recent history of being her own overman
able to embrace all with gusto and gratitude –
has been powered down – pathetically cut –
too much for either of us to truly construe
We wake to a slow down – no more superman

The Lungs of God

I stand under this vault
of our common church –
off-centre on this sea-girt isle

Our stone tradition of roofing
is more to do with fools’ fires
than Heaven’s weight

Here the light is insipid –
no tang of incense
only the blue miasma
off flume emissions

My legs tire – but find no pew –
no tuffet to take me
to the path’s cathartic
kneel-down call

#Guinness is God For Yer

I am – now – that Old Boy in the bar –
he who nurses an anchored pint –
who has time itself as a luxury
of sips every fifteen minutes –

those slow draws of his lifted Guinness
that drinking match of dark mass
and white-topped hair-on-head –
‘Youngsters take this tipple ironically’

Then the in-house mumbling alcoholic
stirs me from my reveries by my name
to ask about my illness – and Christmas –
both are twisting inside me – like candida

The quickened swill in my gut then blooms
to a weighty obligee to her seasonal beliefs –
and those of my degenerative stuff –
each then rinsed down by my cold stout

The Dew Pond

I have woken to
that occasional weight
of the chain mail
of another night sweat

but now it is winter –
my cycle-kicking
of the layered sheets
has no drying effect

I lie in wait for a miracle
but revert to dancing
blindly to the bathroom
to dab my dew ponds

This uneasiness
in my places of aches –
of Song-writing Disease –
could be helped

by flicking the switch
but such light –
such selfish luxury –
would wake you

As I towel myself down
I remember in waking
that you are not here
and will not be woken


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Stair Well

I tipped myself into half of an escape
to sit alone on the in-laws’ stairs –
tilted there by my uneven troubles
from imbalances set by disconnections

I was taking myself off my thumped legs
and away from my sucks of short-fix air –
which set me to stand for a brief parade
among partly-heard party conversations

of drunk relatives – spiked by marriage vows –
loosened by the briefest of infidelities –
those with a younger man whose wife stood up
to beauty’s allure – she was there for measure

I put up too – with the racist uncle’s drunk ideas
for less than five minutes – not quite a cure –
but enough to get me to stand up again
and to leave him staring at an empty step

Audio HERE

Holding

The act of opening has to be
quite deliberate –
from the holding of the tin
of polish –
in your poor hand

to then apply the finger-end twist
to the blind key –
just enough contact and pressure
to turn to prise the lid

But over time the art bends away
and becomes less effective –
The mechanics do not last long enough –
not as long as the polish

Blunt

These day-in day-out mis-typings
of small tap-tap-tap screen pokes –
which I commit as my bad habit –
weightless stabs in this landscape
to stall that mental keel

warned of by my desk-set consultant –
My thoughts are in a dark waiting room
without a fixed appointment for entry –
sat for a last hurrah
before the freeze

I greeted her breezy – How are you?
with an unfair response –
I use this screen – my handheld shield –
for honest words – about everything –
I’ll always dig for verse
in this spade-blunting field

Laid

It was as if there was no step
or soft seat that did not force
the deep stab and grip of pain
through his frame and thoughts

He had stood well for a time
but then the ill rip-and-burns
filled his limbs with that sear
which fuelled flames in turn

Bad as it was – it was not Death –
He led The Crowd to the pit –
felt his calves lock on the path –
and then sear as if then split

He rocked on his heels to ease it all
whilst he read to them The Truth –
as laid out in the lines for the dead –
but God’s words were still no proof

As the Boxed Man was loose of his ties
and was set down in the earth
his own spine screamed for a seat –
or to lie flat on the peeled back turf

By the time the priest got to his car
all of the Dark Cast were gone –
In the cold groan of the air con
he let out a tear to mourn

That was his last one for The Church –
it had turned its arched back –
to leave him to face an ill grace
and to tear up the old contract

Catching Butterflies

To catch a butterfly
takes a lightness of hand
which I try to employ
whenever I can

The reminder chimes
for the civic hall meeting
where the Parkinson’s carers
do all the speaking

Their therapy stirred
into cups of weak tea
and we smile politely
at the speaker’s ill ease

I’ll be the youngest
at this month’s farce –
still able to hold
a life trapped by glass

Echo

He was moved down
to ‘The Departure Lounge’
and we were reduced
to the daytime whispers
of his night duty shifts
as required ten years earlier

but then Dad was dying
and his bed was grounded
almost as if the next stage
was another eased lowering

Three decades on
and I now look to a room
which is equally flawed
but my expected years
are not that finite reduction
of a terminal Illness

I struggle with this shift
from first floor to ground
but it will make life easier
for all in our household
I say I struggle with this shift

Broken

And these awakenings roll
from stones into movement

of cruel stretches to unlock
my fixed hands from the straps
of an accelerated illness

as my skin crawls with insects
within the scratched at tingled layers

and no tablet on earth can fix
the inner unrubbed itch

no cream can offer emulsion
enough to bleach the nettle beaters

except for her mouth on mine
and a foreign breath to confuse

Wine

The developed hills of Nerja
were not designed for me
(the me now rested halfway
on ascents and descents
in and out of the old town):

A quick trip to drink red wine
and pick at slapped down tapas,
as the silvered pensioners,
springing from bar to bar,
leave me blindly tapping.

The Mediterranean laps
on this unfinished coast
of collapsed kerbstones
and mismatched slopes,
Dali’s own theme park
of shadowy hazards.

And I make it back, alone,
with my whereabouts online,
via Google’s data pool,
for those I left at the bar
able to still pub crawl.

Note

Yes, no stick. No. More pain:
But you did not ask, although I offer
full disclosure, a guided tour of this
ever so slight inconvenience:

Just above the statutory distances,
but they will shorten along with more
outward signs which should
reduce your doubt.

But for now I will dance off indicants
you’ll never see: I will dance with them
until I die.

Sleep, Removed II

This eye-lined weight
takes me to my bed,
too easily, to sleep,
even then, struck midday,
when the rest of my family
is filling the[ ]gaps
left by my missing
during waking hours.
And I will lie, still, dressed,
rolled round, under the cover
of my selfish-slept discomforts.

Hurting

Our closest have lives to live and enjoy –
delayed redundancy in our sick bed-employ –

Carers – co-sufferers – careers not chosen –
tend the disconnected – the mumblers and frozen –

Altered – shameful – re-written contracts –
No wedded-bliss when we ill cannot act –

Wives – husbands – family – relatives old –
air-brushed awareness as age takes hold –

My prop – my chained-helper – engaged far too cheap –
Her offset disbursement being too tired to weep

When care is passed on – hear my atheist-prayer –
I ask her forgiveness for our marriage – unfair


E220119

The King’s Speech

My old voice – fragmenting – along with my teeth –
speech patterns are broken – immutably creased –
pouring decay out my thought-cavities –

spoken in youth – such mendacities
They arise again on bile’s chest-stab –
My speechless dictation a keyboard-gab

The therapist pointed – a turned beige chair –
his notes – table-placed – his hands held in prayer –
Deliver me patients, who’ll speak much more –

Or something like that – his held-silent lore –
Sheets ticked – penned by his half-deciphered scrawl –
The speech could be lost under PD’s draped pall

The heartburn – easy – just change everything –
but my speech will ne’er be that of a King –
I left with a list of life to elude –

Diluting a risk of slow-death through food –
Air-way – gullet – they won’t work so well –
my banqueting less and thus choke-risk quelled


E070119