Punch views images from the lead-lined room
of hunched, misshaped bones.
Punch dances round the room –
head on a pole,
chest iron-maiden bound
with extra spikes,
hips a claggy crucible,
Mismatched red socks sneak
past frozen feet,
up past stiffened ankles.
Punch plays St Sebastian.
Punch is put to the rack —
stretched, heaved, bent, twisted.
“You manage quite well, considering,” puffs the osteopath.
Locked inside the Lord of Misrule’s body
I don’t know whether to be pleased – or not.
morphine tastes nasty, ive called it ‘the devil’s cough syrup’ before. it’s sickly sweet and cloying, but you know what’s Weird? when you first take that spoonful into your mouth, it’s not that bad. not great, it’s still medicine, but it’s tolerable. only when you attempt to swallow it does it make its true terribleness known.
It’s 2am and my body is on fire. Every cell is boiling. Sweat creeps from my pores. It only takes a moment to soak through my favourite t-shirt, then through the sheets and mattress covered in yellow imprints.
I can’t get any fucking sleep. This happens to me every night, up to ten times. Then 40 times a day, no matter the season.
I’m a comedian, but it’s near impossible to make people laugh when my body is transforming against my will. When I’m furious about an illness 50% of the population will never experience while the other 50% will understand it 20+ years after me. Isolated because no doctor out of my team of 7 can determine exactly why it is I went into menopause at 28. Depressed because they know little about a condition that under 1% of the female population develops.
This is my life now.
a flap in the back
tra la la obsessive screaming
sounds of machines
situated between two beds
rupture of bodies
delivered in close up
Jane Joritz-Nakagawa’s most recent book is Poems: New and Selected (Isobar, 2018) on sale at Amazon
Our minds latch to narrative,
it’s how we learn, remember, interpret.
I went to hospital to have a baby,
I should’ve returned more, not less.
Subtracted: my ability to rise, walk, move;
In my pelvis, broken bone.
What is the premise?
What is the character’s motivation?
What is the hook?
That feeling: ochre, electric, waist down.
The hook is me on the edge of my bed, listening for my baby.
My doctor: you will probably heal
what if I don’t
things that were part of me: walking, laughing, being in ocean.
My editor draws lines through this section.
[The pacing is slow, nothing happens]
Days are triangles between the bed, the couch, the bathroom.
Pain tethers me; a dog on a rope.
I’m on the bed trying to stand, the collar pulls my neck
to breathe or growl
I watch from the other side of the room how I’m changed.
she is in the sauna drinking coke and eating salted peanuts
one knee resting against the hot wood, silvery hair damp and sticking to her shoulders
we discuss midwifery and the what it’s like to catch a slippery baby
in your palms
she is standing in seal skin coat with white fur collar beside the church
mid afternoon sun coming through jewel red of stain glass window
holding a cigarette to her lips exhaling smoke and warm breath
casual flick of ash hitting the ice
i can’t say what it is about these chance encounters that reel me in
give me something to latch onto
but mystery in itself can be a sustainer for the curious
there is no such thing as “meant to be”
things are just happening – miraculous, mundane things –
and why do we need more than that?
all is as it is as it is, amen
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)
She asks if it’s raining outside while she takes my blood pressure. I ask if I should take my shoes off before I stand on the scales. Sharp scratch, she says before she slides in the needle. Four vials of blood, all with sticky labels. I take the foil plate into the cubicle, slip on the purple latex gloves. My name is printed on the side of the plastic tube. The body makes the slow transition to data.
On a scale of 1 to 10, how painful are your joints? I try to measure my pain. She presses on my knee and I gurgle, spit out my tongue. My body is unmarked, conceals the grinding of bones. No sign of swelling here, she says. Writes it down. Ghost-bodied, I float somewhere on an interface, alongside the sick. Sleeping whales suspended in the blue. We sing the numbers of our suffering.
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
you sit in my throat like a stone in shoe
eyes dry as bone. bones hurt.
these days that feel different but all so same.
little belly wrenches all the time as though to be freed from something
tonsils i should rip them from my neck. daft neck
neck forever stiff
but why should neck feel at ease when i remain so needlessly static
lose my reasons every day
and think of new
ask yourself what time it is. what day
become like a teddy bear.
apples hurt my mouth but i still eat them.
how life is unfair.
why must i scratch my skin?
not fair on you
to have everything
daffodils. i used to kick their heads off. weak.
it follows me round everywhere.
what’s the point in being alive when you’re dead
how can you sleep when you’re wet