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,


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.


In our illnesses, may we know that we are not alone, for everyone treads a version of this path.

May we know that we are loved along the way.

Ugly fat old man

Hey ugly fat old man

what do you think you are doing

just standing there staring at me like that

with your face covered in shaving cream?

What happened to that young guy

you people used to have

on the other side of the mirror?

Did he get bored hanging around?

Went looking for somewhere more interesting

to hang out?

You may as well stick around,

I suppose.

I hate to think who they might send

to replace you,

if you were to go.

You’ve got his nose, you know.

You two related?

How come you got so many ugly people

over there?


Pathetique.  Its less pathetic, when its in French.


If I was ten years younger

I might make a fool of myself

so I am glad that I am not.

I smile

and suck it in.

Why would I think

things would be any different

to how they were

ten years ago?

If I was ten years younger.

Except, like, for facebook and stuff.


I found a shoe

by the side of the road

There was no foot in it.

Not this time.


Tell me.

What I want to know,

is where

do the dead women go?

Last Words

The old man,

he is dying

he is smiling

he knows he is dying

and he thinks

“I made it”.

The money didn’t run out

I didn’t go mad

kept it under control

kept going.

Food on the table

shoes on feet

wolf from the door.

Cut it close sometimes

but in the end

he made it.

He is smiling.

Everybody dies.

Not everybody makes it.

He is happy.

At last, he can let go.

All his very many one days at a time,

and now there are no more.


Corey the pondering clown had a competition for a poem with this title.  I wasn’t interested in the competition [there wasn’t a million dollar prize 🙂 ], but this idea and this image came to me in the early hours of the morning.  (It is very quiet here, so sometimes it is harder to sleep.  When you hear a noise, it is harder to convince yourself that it is not them coming to get you.  One day, it will be.)  The cliches are deliberate.  He might be happy, but in many ways it is very sad, that his happiness comes from scraping through, from making it.  For those of us who struggle though, you get through one day at a time, each little triumph, and then one day, there are no more days to get through.  Perhaps that is the final victory.  Then what comes after?  Don’t judge him too harshly if there are no references to loved ones here – whose feet did he keep shod, who did he protect from the wolf?  His love is expressed practically, and that is the greatest poem, and it is not one that I can write.

A bit of a contrast with “Young Love, with scar” below, which I like more, but if I only every wrote down the one I liked the best, there would only be one (actually, there would be none, because that is the fatal flaw of perfectionism).