Christmas Day 1994

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This month's poem was chosen by Peter Crompton, he says of it, "Incredible!"

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Christmas Day 1994

We stalk the wards Dr Davies and I,
Fixing what has gone awry,
Preparing for periodic paltry medical attendance,
A desert spell of festive bank holidays; Saturday; Sunday.

Before this day Michael had beamed a light,
On the dark drudgery of trudging round the wards,
Witty, bubbly, gorgeous Michael,
Whose friends might joke that his lovers hand-in-hand,
Would run Canal Street’s length.

But today, Michael has no yuletide cheer,
He does not charm or joke or feign in flirts,
He lies gasping and unaware,
Holding his dad’s hand
Hurtling on the slide downhill,
Because Michael is dying.

His father knows,
His brothers know,
The nurses know,
I know,
Michael knows,
But Dr Davies, this guy who knows all there is to know about fungi,
Does not want to know, that Michael is dying.

The specialist’s eyes have captured steep decline,
His ears have held the stertorous hiss of rattling breath,
He’s watched the wasting of a hard young frame,
To bones fit only for ash,
He’s noticed the interlocking hands,
Holding on to this the last,
Because Michael is dying.

Dr Davies strives for Michael’s time,
Reeling off a concise list of clinical derring-do,
Cefaclor, pentamidine, intubate and ventilate,
Michael’s father winces in this crystal litany’s midst,
He smells antiseptic futility; holds a holed umbrella for a killing rain,
Because Michael is dying.

Dr Davies leaves,
I sit with Michael’s dad,
He cries and asks me what I think,
Is there any point to all this stuff,
For can’t we see that Michael is dying.

Agreeing, I decide to speak again to the man in charge,
Wrestling subjugated fear and dialling,
Passing on familial reservations,
They want it all to end,
Since Michael is dying.

Dr Davies says he understands,
But doing nothing will not do,
I jump myself in sharp response,
“Why not?”, I say, “Michael is dying”.

Over wire I feel his shock,
Then taste the dangerous insubordination,
In the silence’s grisly yawn,
Then I hear him mutter, of CD4 counts dreadfully low,
And concession that it might be best to let him go,
I sigh relief as he feels that Michael is dying.

I do not blame him for his fear,
For wanting at least partial victory,
Over viral loads that swept young men in droves,
Nor for shrinking as a witness, like me, to Michael’s shining locks’ rot
To balding desolation
Dr Davies fought and fought, so knew not when to stop,
And now, fourteen years on, is winning,
But back then,
Michael was dying.


◄ The Poetry Center of Chicago presents Li-Young Lee

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carol falaki

Mon 29th Dec 2008 11:51

thought provoking and moving, just what poetry is about

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Fri 26th Dec 2008 12:48

Read this through a few times and found it really touching,brave and honest!

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Tue 23rd Dec 2008 19:27

Hi Sean I realy enjoyed the poem, it reminds me of something similar that happened to me. I wanted to tell you this on sun at the gypsies tent, but im a bit shy.

<Deleted User>

Sun 21st Dec 2008 17:34

love the prose-like quality of this and normally I don't like repetition but in this context it really works:Michael is dying.Great stuff!

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Anthony Emmerson

Wed 17th Dec 2008 19:18

Much enjoyed. Thought provoking stuff, well crafted and a great listen.



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winston plowes

Wed 10th Dec 2008 16:41

Hi Sean, A well deserved poem of the month if there ever was one. As the poem develops, so does the story and leads you on an uncomfortable journey charting the desparate final days in Michaels life. Through the eyes of "Dr Davies and I" So many conflicts in this sad offering. Liked the use of medical terms (Even if I didn't understand them)
Best Wishes

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Val Cook

Fri 5th Dec 2008 16:14

Great poem Sean, I thought so when I heard it too. Glad its out there now, for all to read.

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Thu 4th Dec 2008 12:04

Really good poem Sean. I enjoyed it a lot.

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Tue 2nd Dec 2008 23:14

i can't write silence .

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Gus Jonsson

Mon 1st Dec 2008 17:27

Hi Sean

Loved it the first time I heard it at Sale.....Great Poem..
Well done
Regards Gus

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Mon 1st Dec 2008 16:43

that is excellent Sean

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