How many tonight

The night is as thick as coal dust

As the night shift starts

The electricity keeps going out

No lights, no oxygen

Who will die tonight?

Back on again

A Doctor sprays the room before the start of her shift

To protect against the dreaded fly

Among the sweat and heat the medics loose blue uniforms move around

With needles and gloves

Children cry with pain

Some vomiting again

How many tonight

Three or four maybe six or seven


A father is told his daughter is too young for herbal medicine

Her liver may pack up

It’s a quarter past three

She is sitting up with tubes in her nose being fed

But nobody complains in this suffocating heat 

The night passes amid parents singing worship songs

Interlaced with several halleluiahs

After twenty-six hours no one has died

A smiling tired Doctor relieved goes home to bed





◄ Feckless youth

Eddie Condon's apprentice ►


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Martin Elder

Sun 23rd Jun 2019 21:38

Thanks for reading and commenting on this piece Erin. As you say sadly true

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Eiren Water

Sun 23rd Jun 2019 14:18

Sadly ringing true and too close to home for so many sharing this small planet.

Thank you for such a vivid reminder.

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Martin Elder

Thu 6th Jun 2019 21:24

Thanks to John, Tommy and Ray for liking.

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Martin Elder

Tue 4th Jun 2019 22:26

David you comments are always welcome. It is good to hear a point of view that has first hand experience of such situations. I cannot and would not pretend to be able to do so.
Thank you for you input in this and as you say if nothing else it may cause a talking point and therefore some further thoughts in the hearts and minds of others.
Thanks David

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Martin Elder

Tue 4th Jun 2019 16:54

Thanks to Robert, Jon, Mona, a fishamongmany and Kim for liking.

Thanks Dorothy for commenting. I feel the whole situation is rather sad. However my take on it was the songs were more songs of joy than lament. But I totally get what you are saying with regard to affluence and the appalling inequalities that abound.

Your comments are much appreciated.
Thanks again


<Deleted User> (21487)

Tue 4th Jun 2019 06:45

"The night passes amid parents singing worship songs"
what a sad hopeless picture that sums up

compare that to the affluence of Trump Towers and other 'palaces'
it sickens.


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Martin Elder

Mon 3rd Jun 2019 20:40

Hi Rose and Jemima
Thanks for reading and commenting. I have to confess that this is based on a recent BBC news item that I saw regarding a children's hospital in Freetown Sierra Leone, where most of the children brought in were suffering with malaria. The father who had brought in his little daughter had given her some herbal medicine which he was told would be bad for her liver.
The parents later on were all singing what sounded like worship songs in their own native tongue .
At the end of her shift the Doctor was relieved that nobody had died. It had upset me to think of these poor kids so I was stirred to write the above.
Thanks again

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Jemima Jones

Mon 3rd Jun 2019 15:10

Martin, I totally agree with Roses comments. Having seen programmes relating to this subject I can only wonder how on earth some of these hospitals cope. Thank you. Jemima.

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Rose Casserley

Mon 3rd Jun 2019 14:44

how much this sad although well-written piece truly depicts the typical overworked scenes in so many of our hospitals today Martin'

take care Sir!

Rose ?

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