There is a snuffing out
when the synapses stop firing.
The ex-wives fade to black.
His hawks blink.
The Co-op, Jesus, trains and snow glimmer.
Planets spin off the axons.
Our kisses are ashes
blown to the wind.
He lies alone, like a great house
with all it’s furniture moved out;
windows smeared with grease,
electrics, plumbing in such disarray,
builders would suck their teeth,
shrug, turn away.
Flick a switch, see the neurons crackle.
Smell the burning.
I am your pain.
Like Puck; quicksilver, impish, mischief-making.
You’re easily fooled, you make my nonsense real, you feel what is not true.
I stab and prickle, or transform into
A metal straitjacket, squeezing your foot, your leg.
Around each toe, elastic bands pulled tight.
You call me neuropathy; I say there’s no such thing,
Your foot, your leg, your left side, are my playthings.
When you sit quiet or sleep, I perch on your bed,
Waiting for you to move, when I will strike
Half-numb, like an injection in the gum where you can’t smile or chew,
Half feather-sensitive, you jump awake
When the duvet’s pulled so gently by a sleeping partner; he is unaware
That you lie, struggling to relax, to breathe it out, make it go away…
But I don’t leave. I will never leave.
I control. I rule you. I am king.
hey Leah ive been worried about you. theres this site i want you to see, ive been putting poems on there about chronic pain. you dont have to do this alone.
My grandma had 7300 sleepless nights
Until a Shanghai doctor said
‘You have restless legs’
The 1st good night’s sleep
In the 7301 nights.
Like a tennis ace, all
Crisp white shorts, and shirts
Fresh every day,
He sits over the breakfast
Table, too big
For any chair, an elbow
Planted, a one-hand scoop
Of eggs and bacon,
Solid muscle in the arm
And thigh, his neck
A bronze pillar
Of glowing flesh.
And then you see
Slight tremor, and glimpse
The massive continuing act
Of self-control that holds
This huge frame
Spillage, leakage, any sign
That one day soon
Tendon may spasm,
The merest lifting of a fork
An impossible task,
And are aghast
Before this terrible
Anthology: Bristol: 21 Poems (published 2017)
UK (but written in the Maldives)
When the pain goes I half suppose my flesh marked, transformed. A growth of lichen, say, with its warm turmeric tint; a layer of cool, silvery fish-scales; traces of the glacial burn of chain-mail melting into skin. Best of all a delicate, graceful articulation of relief on the site of its worst excesses: once the sharp, piercing jolts give over to prickling, tingling sensations (as if the top of my skull were open or at least porous), the tiniest, downiest feathers could unfurl in the round, a bit like a peacock’s crest – thin stalks topped with trembling blowballs.
But there is nothing, not a wound, not a bruise, not even the flushed tone of a limb pressed against the mirror, straining elsewhere.
(A small crochet work, of a shiny ochre hue, is laid out on a piece of white paper. Dense stitches amass around an empty centre, as if framing a face, becoming looser and looser and turning into ever wider swinging loops. A bit like Medusa’s serpent hair, only less dangerous. In the empty centre, where, were it a face, the mouth would be, lies a small pink square of paper with a black circle from which a thin line protrudes, describing a marker, or corner, or the beginnings of an arrow.)
SUPINELY SUBLIMELY (Book)
Worst days pain ricochets like shooting stars with pinball crushes. Oh the love! Releases fiery goo when ramming rib, tooth, bone. Skull reels alone; body razed by frequent flyer flares, flags pushed here there, declaring consternation zones. Each smart begets another, emulates, and brass bands march in new-laid grooves, playing their loudest, most discordant tunes. Strangely breasts score synchronicity, pressed hard against the faces of two grinning clocks (hands colliding, clouding time). Neither words nor image until pacified.
Book SUPINELY SUBLIMELY
Helplessness. It’s worse for me you know. You are only suffering but you do that every day. But every day I wake up and with the reddened sky I know that I can never help you. Hopelessness. It’s worse for me. You can imagine a cure or some relief though you know – you know – that that will never come. All I want is for your pain to go away for ever. And you know please know that’s not the same as not wanting you here forever. Look into my eyes, please look into my eyes and please, please don’t show me pity.
When he was dying, I swallowed a CoCodamol before bedtime as if it were hot chocolate. I craftily attributed my zen-like calm in the face of helping Dad as he pissed blood into a plastic pot at 3am – I don’t know what’s happening to me, he said, again and again – to my sensible study of The Tibetan Book of The Dead. It was a lie, but a lie that helped.
Author website: The Diary I Didn’t Write