Poetry, Uncategorized

Postnatal, Pre-shower

Blood in greasy hair
Bruised nose
Sore throat
Stinky armpits
Blood on chest
Swollen breasts
Sore nipples
Cluster-feeding newborn (3.5kg)
Enflamed rib cartilage
Friction burns on elbows
Swollen abdomen
Extensive bruising on forearms, wrists, backs of hands and knuckles
Swollen hand
Swollen knuckles
Six cannula entry points 
Extensive stretch marks on lower abdomen 
Clicking pelvis
Blood crusted pubic hair
Catheter inserted
750 ml of blood loss in 30 seconds
Swollen labia 
Initially incomplete placenta
Retracting uterus
Stitched episiotomy on right hand side
Stretch marks on upper thighs
Urine covered legs
Blood covered legs
Bruising on legs
Muscle fatigue in legs
Friction burns on knees
Bruising on tops of feet

This poem was the final poem I read at the BSMS Poetry in Medicine event (20th November). It’s one of a growing group of poems I intend to make into a large project. Hopefully, I can say more about it soon!


Do You Know, Or Do Know Yourself?

I know the woman who sits on the groyne and watches the sea overlap the concrete, 
Who walks the pebbles for mermaid’s purses, who smiles into the wind.
I know the little boy who chases seagulls with only fish and chips on his mind.
I know the man with the metal detector is thinking of raspberry ripple with a flake.
I know the seafood is not so local.
I know where makes a decent roast and where to buy the best cake.

I know the quietest park, the prettiest park, and the park with the happiest children.
I know where to feed the squirrels.
I know where the mating pigeons sleep.
I know those with love. 

I know those in love.
I know the official, unofficial, and still call themselves single.
I know the sweaty, tight-clasped hands, arms around waists, public displays of affection and the turn away of a face. 
I know the couple whose latest addition to the family has four legs. 

I know the dogs that pad the pavement: Dachshund, Dachshund, Dachshund, Miniature Dachshund. Seriously, why so many sausage dogs?
And I know the Cocker Spaniel, the Cockerpoo and the cock-your-leg-and-sniff-your-bum-how-do-y’do?
I know how hard it must be to have Alfie in the pram and Oscar on the lead while your partner takes selfies,
Do you know, I know the babbas in slings, the tots in buggies, the tikes on scooters, 
I know the kids in shades on their bikes slouching low or with no seat at all 
And I know the French kids, and the Spanish kids and the Dutch kids and the German kids cramming the streets and the MackyD’s with maps with blanked-out gaps for them to exercise their English.
I know the singular young men who sit in Jubilee Library wrapping their mouths around strange English vowels, and the silent mums who check out children’s books to read to themselves.
I know they are lonely. 
I know they are not alone.

I know where the NCT mums meet for coffee, 
I know where the old ladies eat,
I know how much it costs to take high tea at the Ivy.
I know that Churchill Square is a clone-plan shopping mall.
I know many people can’t afford The Lanes, 
I know hen nights and stag dos don’t belong to you,
I know how it feels to have a stranger scream in your ear,
I know what it’s like to not want to walk out in the dark,
I know what the back alleys smell of,
I know men who lean inside telephone boxes, convulsing with their sleeves rolled up.
I know the tents.  
I know you know the answer to ‘do you have any spare change?’

I know the YMCA, the Women’s Centre, the Children’s Centres, the Sanctuary on Sea,
I know the Gurdwaras travel down to feed the hungry,
I know the churches that shut their doors after service on Sunday,
I know the vans that pass psalms out with hot food,
I know how to avert my eyes when I’m not in the mood.
And I know, I know there’s no god, but that’s just me,
I’m the kind that goes around hugging trees,
Yet there’s a goddess who gnaws this shore, who eats men and spits glass,
Who we piss, pollute and hide our evidence in. She can turn on us. 
I know the woman who sits on the groyne and watches the sea overlap the concrete, 
Who walks the pebbles for mermaid’s purses, who smiles into the wind. 
I know that as she walks home she can pass thousands of faces, and says nothing to no one.  

I know your streets, every twisty little lane.
I know your people, Brighton, but I don’t know their names,
Do you know? Or do you know yourself?