Self-Portrait as an Angel
I’m in town after my First Aid refresher
and there’s an old lady, out cold
on the floor of The Dog’s Trust shop.
Newly reminded of the throat’s poor design,
I’m on it, I’m there, skilfully easing her
into the recovery position, wishing
my Mum was here to see me win at life.
The shop assistant is talking on her phone,
crikey Jan, this can’t end well, why me?
so I mouth the word AMBULANCE,
professionally. The old lady begins to stir.
She hits me. Get away she says.
You can’t trust no bugger, get away,
or I’ll kill you. Two paramedics rush in.
One shouts, don’t you worry my love,
we’ll have you home and dry in time for
‘Can’t Pay? I’ll take it away.’
I think of that old lady now, in her kitchen,
opening a small tin of butter beans,
or buttoning her cardigan for bingo. Life!
isn’t it strange? You wander into a shop,
eyes peeled for a bargain, and it’s pointless
because your time’s up, but then it isn’t
because there’s an angel behind you
giving you shelter beneath her wings,
and she’s kneeling on the floor beside you
giving you another run at life.
Girls Later-Life Orgasm Ode
O high crest of the much steeper slope
than you once were, I used to skip
bare-legged, hell-for-leather, without equipment
to reach your breathless summit. Forgive me,
of late I’m prone to abort such a quest
for sleep. It’s just what comes over me,
that seducer with a better guarantee.
Once-so-eager, now more toilsome chum,
long have I loved and shall love you,
but must confess, I mourn the loss
of Oestrogen. Sweet companion she who
so tirelessly oiled the wheels of your machine.
O cumbrous, occasional friend, alas,
those grassy paths of dappled sun
are lost to me now, overgrown, gone.
My wearisome love, you offer me
only your onerous, northernmost side.
Is it strange to admit it’s still you I pitch
my sights on? Committed to the long haul
with my ice pick, rope and crampons.
In infants school our teacher chalked
‘orphan’ on the board to show us no ‘f’.
She meant Howard, no harm intended,
it was different back then. Orphan she said
eyes on Howard, whose hair shone like glass.
Howard who’d spit on his mucky hands,
and swing the length of the monkey bars
singing Jesus bids us shine with a pure clear light.
Howard, who lived in a Barnardo’s home.
I want to say all his big losses came early.
Misfortune turned and walked away from him
while he was still new and his hair shone like glass.
Many times since I’ve said to my sister,
next time round let’s not have kids. We’ve laughed
and raised a toast to that. I’ll leave this world
not knowing what happened to Howard
who couldn’t spell. I just can’t unhear him whisper
my Mummy telled me, one day she’ll come back.