The Collected Poems (I – scars)

INTERNATIONAL BURNS DAY

 I thought that it

must have been

International Burns Day

with the victims on parade,

their different scars on display.

Marks I had not seen before.

Hair up, showing pigmentless flesh

below the ear.

Flashmark along the arm.

Puckered skin running down the rear

of a shoulder.

Are these the marks

that all lives leave,

everyday little tricks

usually hidden up a sleeve?

Did everyone see?

Or was I gifted to view

a deeper reality?

What use was that to me?

It was a conversation starter,

but not much of one.

I prefer “Do you come here often?”,

its not as scary.

I saw through the cosmetics,

the veneer of confidence

granted by beauty.

I saw everyone’s little horror story.

I averted my eyes

from windows and mirrors.

Would I have to blind myself?

Or maybe I might meet

a pretty girl

to do it for me.

*************

YOUNG LOVE, WITH SCAR

I thought you had a really cool tatt,

until I saw it was a line of sores that

you had been picking at.

I liked the way the blood caked.

I liked the delicacy of where your skin flaked

from last weeks sun burn.

You were this weeks stomach churn,

my latest after hours ache.

At least your hand picked scar would fade.

Useless adolescent longing,

like there was a hole in me big enough

to hold the world,

as though the world was big enough to care about,

knowing that I would never find a way to get it all inside,

that there would always be a part of me that was empty.

At least your hand picked scar would fade

eventually.

********************

SURPRISE

Cancer too is a prize

You don’t have to queue at the newsagent’s

to buy a ticket

They slip it in with the teddy bear,

the beatrix potter china setting,

the first photograph album,

unnoticed.

The final draw may be foreshadowed

in the missed stitch in the booties

grandma made

put aside, only used at your Baptism.

(“It was her last pair.  Do you think she knew?”)

Unlike the contents of your bowels

or your most recent projectile vomit,

it is not discussed in polite company.

It may stick its head around the corner at 3.30am,

pop into Dad’s thoughts as he tries to settle you

and sees his own mortality as he pictures his own father

rocking him 30 years ago,

and his grandfather walking the floor twenty years before that.

A link in the chain between first and last

Somewhere between the savannah and the heat death of the universe.

You can buy more tickets later on,

or be the lucky recipient of a random allocation.

Just like a five million dollar lottery.

You say you’ll keep working,

but you’ll find that you can’t.

Your colleagues no longer look at you,

well, not the same way.

Early retirement either way.

And lots of time to think.

***

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