The Last Word


You might be gone

But, just so you know:

I was – and still am – right.

 

I’m always right:

I’m the right of right

(Albeit, politically still left)

That’s right of righteousness.

 

And it suits me:

I can carry off righteousness

Like a politician his grin

And a snake its oily skin.

 

Being right, for me,

Is just right.

Right for me

- and I think -

Right for you.

 

Support my righteousness

Like a bride’s proud father supports

His daughter down her wedding aisle

And it’ll make you one happy man.

 

Don’t try to be right yourself -

You and right are about as compatible

As socks worn with sandals.

 

If only you’d accepted me and right

As inseperable…there’d have been

No need for the ‘I hate you”s barked at each other

Or the dreams of ‘I love you”s we kept for another.

 

If you’d accepted just how right I am

You’d be languishing in contentment

Right now; secure in the knowledge of EVERYTHING.

 

But then you’d never be happy

Because without the fight

To be right, there’s nothing to aspire to.

 

So, for your own welfare, just accept:

I am right

And now you

Never can be.

 

 

Nobody Else


I like to let the fresh air
in through the garden door,
inhale the garlic from our neighbours’ kitchens
enjoy the outside without being there.

I like to walk barefoot
on carpets and wooden floors,
upon the world we’ve made together.

I like to feel the rush of hot water on my palms
and pass my fingers through the flames of candles
just to remind me of how fleeting pain is.

I like to fall asleep when the sky is at its darkest,
when the bedroom windows are open
and the only sounds in the street
are the muffled frustrations of a domestic
three doors along
or the low hum of a car engine winding
down and parking.

And I like to wake when daylight
turns our curtain nets the colour
of skimmed milk,
leave the house
and imagine the world
with nobody else in it
but me.

Woodlice


I was once asked to be the Queen of the Woodlice.
As they scuttled towards me,
fourteen legs outstretched,
carrying a crown of August-parched grass,
they requested my patronage
and handed me a crumpled order of ceremony.

They wanted me to roll about like a dog
in our garden soil,
dirty my entire body,
glue a dozen tree branches to my legs,
and lead them in their hunt for fauna.

But I was an unlikely authority figure
and, God, I hated them, those little Pennie pigs,
those sowbugs, those tiggyhogs;
how they made acid bile bite my gums.

I’d rather have worn a snake
around my neck;
rather felt its warm, acrid breath
on my cheek as it lunged in
to take
my body into his.

So I started a massacre:
turned soil with my round palms,
stuffing, poking, prodding,
burying as many as I could
while simultaneously sending worms and spiders
on a detour from wherever they were going.

The grass-crown withered
but those woodlice were
the corpses of the wronged:
the victims of misjustice,
of religion, of politics,
of beliefs in hierarchy,
of hearsay and lies.

Determined as they were,
they tunneled their way back up
through the soil,
’til they crunched behind me in their thousands,
cool as you like,
exoskeletons unscathed,
squealing like piglets
about how they could never be
and would never be
oppressed.

The Awakening


I could hear everything going on around me. I Could hear the Nurse saying, ‘Brain scan, bloods, ECG.’ I sensed somebody beside my bed. A woman repeating my name, ‘Alison, Alison…Alison, I know you can hear me.’ And she was right. I could hear her, but I couldn’t respond; I wasn’t able to respond. There I was, trapped. I could hear, but I felt nothing: I felt nothing, could taste nothing and my eyes were sealed by the fate of impending death.

The ward was full of the rush of trolleys being pushed by porters from the emergency department waiting room to re-cuss and ward bays. The Nurse Call buttons were bellowing from different directions, and fast-paced footsteps of nurses in their thick-soled black shoes squeaked speedily in response to these alarms. I wasn’t expecting Daniel to come. He was either so deeply disturbed by what had happened that he was packing up his clothes ready to leave the house and start a new life in a new country with his ex girlfriend, or had left the house in such a sleep-deprived frenzy, that he had crashed his car into the back of a stalling lorry.  I imagined the crash was fatal. I saw Daniel slam on the brakes, then the crash with the lorry; Daniel’s head ricochet from the steering wheel again and again, as more and more cars screeched into each other behind him. There, with a concave and broken forehead, I saw him die in a glass infused, bloody debris of panic. What had I done? Had I killed someone? Daniel? Me? If I somehow pulled through and someone found out about this, I would probably lose my job, my house.

In the midst of this, I could hear the weary voice of a frustrated woman talking about her elderly companion. In a thick Cardiff brawl she tirelessly pleaded for the nurses to do something to help, adding ‘she’s 94, she won’t pull through by ‘erself.’ I couldn’t tell what the emergency was, but it didn’t matter. What mattered was the blaze tone of the health professional who said, ‘We’ll have to wait for the doctors, but I don’t want to get your hopes up. 94 years is a good age.’ In that moment my concerns switched from Daniel and why he wasn’t here. I wanted to scream. I wanted to scream for the inner me to wake up and say something. I wanted to say those words that every terrified friend or family member of a sick person needed to hear: ‘we’ll do everything we can.’  These two people needed the defence of another, they needed to know that caring for the old people in this country wasn’t a defunct practice, that some of us still cared, still valued the right of the person to choose, where it was possible to do so, the length of their own life.

As another Nurse Call alarm bellowed once more and the wails of the sick echoed throughout the ward, my worries about the old woman and Daniel became blurred by a thousand other thoughts in my head. There was a race between the good and the bad; both were flying fast,but it was only bad that succeeded. The truth about what had happened frightened me; I didn’t want to leave a life I loved. I didn’t want to die. I really didn’t want to die.

‘Alison? Alison?’ The familiar voice of the woman returned but this time the implication of her tone was that she had become detective: she had found out some new information and wanted to find out how much I knew. If this was a ruse to prise me from my sleep, it didn’t work.  Explanations of life, of existence, of my existence, had become old hat. Attempts at justifications merely left me feeling fed up that I am seldom ever believed. This new attempt to waken me just made me want to retreat further into myself; burrow deeper into my unconsciousness and stay there – there where it was secure, there where there were more fulfilling, happy dreams than conscious, anxiety-inducing thoughts. There where the repetitive calls of my name did not need a response.

It was warm inside my body. Deeper and deeper I fell into my unconscious until my mind was adrift free-flowing images, like I was floating on the shores of a quietly, bobbing sea. I could no longer hear what was going on around me, no longer hear the woman. But she wasn’t gone. Apparently inspired by the last experience before this new, deeper sleep, my subconscious made her the opening feature of my dreams.  She was beside my bed again but instead of her part indifferent, part frustrated presence, she was on her knees, palms together, finger tips pointing upwards to her chin, eyes closed and praying; praying as though my potential recovery would hold some personal, spiritual and emotional reward for her. The murmuring was gradually mimicked by others: doctors, nurses, support workers, porters, all abandoned bays, trolleys and patients to be by my bedside. Everyone surrounded my bed. Even other patients and the relatives of these patients couldn’t help but peep in through the bay curtains, but nobody distracted the evangelists from their aim which was, ultimately,  to save me: the person who had now convinced them that miracles do exist.

.

 

Nihilist


She’s become the person 

she always thought she was. 

The person few believed she was; 

the person she didn’t want to be. 

 

But now everybody believes. 

They believe it when she’s not around

they believe it when they’re not looking, 

They believe it when they don’t even want to;

when they don’t want to look,

when they don’t want to see:

 

That

nobody 

That

no-one 

That

somebody else 

That

She is. 

 

She is the person she thought she was

the person she didn’t want to be 

the person she always hoped she wasn’t

a void; a nothing. 

Notes on a Gender


In March 2014 I shipped my Cats off to West Wales then detailed my guilt in a subsequent poem: The Empty Litter Tray. It was only after I picked the litter tray up, however, that I discovered a journal dense with an unrecognisable language inscribed in quill ink

Aged twenty months, Marjorie was the youngest cat of the two (Myrtle being older by eight years and significantly less intellectually astute than Marjorie) and had been the subject of many a discussion since her inception into the household. One Saturday morning, a week after Marjorie came to live with us, a week after naming him and renaming him, poking him, prodding him, studying his nether regions, my confusion as to the cat’s sexual anatomy piqued. Unwittingly, I asked the Asda grocery delivery driver his opinion on whether the kitten I held up before him was a girl or a boy. As Marjorie’s black and white furry body hung limp in the air, the delivery man squinted towards the cat’s nether regions before happily announcing him to be female. ‘Woo!’ I said, ‘So it’s finally Majorie!’

However, it was only after I’d booked Marjorie in to be spayed, that the vet beckoned me over to her side of the examination table and pointed towards two black and white sacks, hanging like Newton Balls, below Marjorie’s sphincter, that it dawned on me how Marjorie was indeed a male.

Later, after the incident at the empty litter tray, after I stood there, journal in hand, confused, I contacted a translator who identified the quilled, unrecognisable language as Latin. After forking out for the entire journal of thoughts, observations, ideas, poetry and letters, to be translated, I finally realised the emotional and psychological impact that our confusion of Marjorie’s gender had had on him.  Furthermore, I also discovered the activities, political and social systems of cats, as well as, indeed, their compelling and morbid jealousy for baby sloths.

It was with great admiration for Marjorie’s spirit ( as well as surprise at his intellectual and eye-hand co-ordination)  that I set about reproducing his journal into a series of blogs. It’s a special welcome home gift, as well as a commemoration of confused, intellectually brilliant cats everywhere.

 

Dear Stupid

 

I’ve been sat, legs akimbo

I’ve even written on your window:

I’m a male

with balls and willy

why is sex my new achille?

 

 

I do remember seeing something written on the window, as well as a drawing of (what appeared to be) a penis and balls. Although he hasn’t mentioned any illustration in this poem, so maybe that was coincidence.