I have stayed in this room

for two years.

It is duck egg blue, and has

a crappy black table

chiselled with smutty graffiti.

I have a drawer in which to stuff

my words. On my door

there’s a tiny curtain

across a square of glass.

It’s a spy hole.

Each groggy dawn

there are heavy feet;

a torchlight fans my room

to see if I’m dangling

by a belt, or choked in

a pool of vomit

on the cigarette-stubbed floor.

I find this an intrusion

and lay still, as the light

flickers over these

institutional sheets.

Fingering my misery.


You sleep on maroon sheets 

with a pillow between your thighs.

The merest noise wakes you

then you toss 

and the dead inhabit your mind.

You take a slug of cheap brandy

to still your nerves;

sad stories play behind your eyes.

When the dark recedes, you mourn. 

The light is like broken china.


Once, when we fought 

you tossed your wedding ring

down the john.

So instead we bought you

an old silver band

which you had engraved

with gushy words.

It was tighter

so it wouldn’t slip

like your fidelity slipped.

It had a tiny gemstone

meaner than charity

you said that didn’t matter

but I knew there’d be recriminations  

when we were foaming

like wild beasts

and slinging our rings.


​I bruise easily

like soft fruit

I have osteoporosis

in my bones

and awful asthma.

My skin’s a hectic red

my arms have eczema.

I’m a prize porker

my belly hangs

I haven’t seen my toes

in years.

I wheeze and hum tunelessly

I scratch my balding bullet head

but somehow you still love me. 


He takes capsules for depression

and suspension medicine

for his impaired throat,

which was scorched

by an overdose.

He is low

and inexpressibly high

a weathervane tilted into the wind.

I’ve found him weeping

in the half-light, his whole body

clenched. I’ve seen him play

with his children, clowning

like a pro. I’ve stood and watched

as the limousine whisks him away

to the funny farm. It’s tough

to extinguish his madness;

it must be doused by pills

and institutional food

until he’s all new.

And we are so much older.


​Not a numb pain

or a sharp pain

like toothache

but a blowtorch of agony

eating in my belly.

Morphine merely dampens it

pills procure moments

I’m deaf to the doctor’s consolations

I’m being skewered.

I plead some angel

will squeeze my hand

and take me back

before the pain

and mop away the excruciating agony

of dying. 


​The garden is derelict.

Your swimming pool, that sparkled,

is sludge; the lemon trees

that you groomed like your children

have grown unruly. 

You gravelled over the bed of pansies

mother grew; wild grapevines

riot there. An old sofa, swollen by sun,

accommodates strays. And you are most

unkempt of all, clothed

in a dishevelled dressing gown 

waiting to be saved.


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