1. BIRTHDAY DAY
vagabond slippers, the snug imprisonment of tracksuits
smeared with 11:30 soft-diet lunch.
Begin to hope the progress
behind pharmacological ramparts.
The real medicine is touch
all other expertise unnecessary.
I am now a fixture here
the nurses chat at visits, even read my books
between wiping bums and perennially guiding Tommy back to bed.
Clinical notes recorded on the verge –
chasms of new molecules, pneumonic harmonica and missing teeth.
I sing along at this birthday party
when everybody else thinks it's theirs.
Cordial and cake fly like confetti
slow motion kindergarten.
There's the bazaar worth of plots afoot
scheming over nothing
or dentures. Pirates are aloft in the rigging of their wheelchairs/
aluminium walking-frames glint dangerously in a
gatecrashed sunlight that cranks gaiety to a cackled fever.
2. PICK ME UP
Each visitor is like a death, still hanging on
rusted to every mother as she's caught keening into where.
The constant spatter of TVs
worlds coming in to seduce away facts
that have still clung on
(steel hooks in the cerebellum).
Always music somewhere
cassette recordings of pianos built with ceramic tiles instead of strings
Underneath the Arches
We'll Meet Again
(and just once My Generation sent a ripple of fear
through attendant babyboomers).
The heart patch of fort nursed,
mouths open like day
eyes turn tail in prayer
for this week's Dearly Departed.
3. KIND REGARDS
My mother is “such a lady”
and they love her in the way
of pedestrian driftwood, stars and paper cuts.
The dependable burn of cigarettes,
flags of clarity and abyss, alternate horrors each
in separate ways. Time as soil erosion.
Some kind of word in a sleeping night.
Commonwealth Care Standards
and the guilt of children.
Nothing here is unmanaged
yet there's a kind of anarchy,
painted over every three months and
marked on coloured charts.
Families play a hackneyed role –
their fret, love
and secret wishings.
It washes over staff who've seen it before.
There are always better,
always worse actors for these parts.
It's a morality play
written in DNA
´cause Mum's dementia
will probably be our inheritance.
Partners and doctors monitor afternoon snores,
measure our decay.
4. LOST POST
This is some kind of harvest
old flesh on brittle bones
and grey wheat above
Who says death is better?
Most of us
(today- tinned salmon in a weak tomato sauce).
Usually not the residents
sometimes even the mad, tender collegiality
of senescent love affairs –
even though she calls him
by another name and his face
is netted alongside unrelated memories.
In the sound of the sun,
every day is new.
more regularly than friends –
there's the thrill of the ride
beneath panic, balms
and the silent rite of agony.
These veterans wear their ribbons of scars.
Come half past five everyone breathes easier, a sort of tranquillity,
when That Bloody Vera starts nodding off.
- 96: NO THEME IXSUBMIT NOW with M Gill and J Thayil 95: EARTHwith M Takolander 94: BAYTwith Z Hashem Beck 93: PEACHwith L Van, G Mouratidis, L Toong 92: NO THEME VIIIwith C Gaskin 91: MONSTERwith N Curnow 90: AFRO AUSTRALIANwith S Umar 89: DOMESTICwith N Harkin 88: TRANSQUEERwith S Barnes and Q Eades 87: DIFFICULTwith O Schwartz & H Isemonger 86: NO THEME VIIwith L Gorton 85: PHILIPPINESwith Mookie L and S Lua 84: SUBURBIAwith L Brown and N O'Reilly 83: MATHEMATICSwith F Hile 82: LANDwith J Stuart and J Gibian 81: NEW CARIBBEANwith V Lucien 80: NO THEME VIwith J Beveridge 57.1: EKPHRASTICwith C Atherton and P Hetherington 57: CONFESSIONwith K Glastonbury 56: EXPLODE with D Disney 55.1: DALIT / INDIGENOUSwith M Chakraborty and K MacCarter 55: FUTURE MACHINES with Bella Li 54: NO THEME V with F Wright and O Sakr 53.0: THE END with P Brown 52.0: TOIL with C Jenkins 51.1: UMAMI with L Davies and Lifted Brow 51.0: TRANSTASMAN with B Cassidy 50.0: NO THEME IV with J Tranter 49.1: A BRITISH / IRISH with M Hall and S Seita 49.0: OBSOLETE with T Ryan 48.1: CANADA with K MacCarter and S Rhodes 48.0: CONSTRAINT with C Wakeling 47.0: COLLABORATION with L Armand and H Lambert 46.1: MELBOURNE with M Farrell 46.0: NO THEME III with F Plunkett 45.0: SILENCE with J Owen 44.0: GONDWANALAND with D Motion 43.1: PUMPKIN with K MacCarter 43.0: MASQUE with A Vickery 42.0: NO THEME II with G Ryan 41.1: RATBAGGERY with D Hose 41.0: TRANSPACIFIC with J Rowe and M Nardone 40.1: INDONESIA with K MacCarter 40.0: INTERLOCUTOR with L Hart 39.1: GIBBERBIRD with S Gory 39.0: JACKPOT! with S Wagan Watson 38.0: SYDNEY with A Lorange 37.1: NEBRASKA with S Whalen 37.0: NO THEME! with A Wearne 36.0: ELECTRONICA with J Jones