When Blood Runs Still

A.N. Not my best attempt. Apologies.

The monitors beeped, but you grabbed my hand

A last-ditch attempt to make me understand

The despair and desperation that inside you felt

You weren’t yet done with the life you’d been dealt

But your pulse grew weaker as you looked in my eyes

And you said to me, “Doc, don’t you dare let me die.”

They then whisked you away, but your words stayed on my heart

Your time here was ending, but I could feel the battle start

I wrote for some phenyl, and I prepped for the lines

Praying each step would earn enough time

To guide you through this new illness you’d brewed

But, as your blood pressure waned, my own despair grew

I maxed out the levo, phenyl, and dobutamine

I experimented briefly with some dopamine

I added in vaso as the nurse hung your third bag

Of lactated ringer’s, yet your pressures still sagged

I looked around the room and saw students, the staff, the nurse

But, despite all that we did, things still grew worse

We called for your family, but they still hadn’t come

I wracked my brain, but there was nothing left to be done

When I reached for your pulse, I felt my blood chill

For, by the time they arrived, your heart lay still


sweet Hell

i open my heart

it hurts, so i close it.

every day brings with it a new Hell,

i’d be afraid, but i’ve forgetten how to fear.

fear is lost like a memory, like my pride, self-esteem

the nightmares poke me, but i don’t bite

i remember, and i bleed.

fake a smile, fake confidence exudes with each step.

this is how to carry on from frozen, numb

every turn, every step brings some new disaster

awake with the Sun to discover

what sweet Hell will you show me today?

kill count

the road splatters red, and i glance to the side

to see the remains of some creature that’s died

it isn’t my doing, yet the guilt still bubbles

this familiar sensation bears nothing but trouble

don’t look too closely, for you might perchance see

the eyes of the dead, fixed permanently,

the head of a rabbit, or the beak of a duck

the tail of a squirrel caught by some car or truck

they lay there, discarded, by the side of the road

a life whose end lacked the respect it was owed

half-regret, half-disgust, i turn my face from the scene

and carry on with my day, forgetting the things i have seen

now cries fill the air, but i can only half-hear

some part of me wishes to be anywhere but here

the void that he filled leaves near-palpable strife

broken screams of mourning cut the air like a knife

i whisper some platitudes that no one remembers

entranced by his face — the colour of coal embers

his glazed eyes won’t close, the lids too stiff to move

and his stare is accusing, like he’s got something to prove

but he’s out of time, and i back away

glad that my turn will come on some other day

they bring in the trolley, the body ready to load,

with as much deference as a dead man is owed

i back away slowly, turn my face from the scene,

and carry on with my day, forgetting these things i have seen

make it beautiful

i remember her words, how they burnt in my mind

the first time i heard words so harsh or unkind

how stupid i was, how slow and how dumb,

but i couldn’t help it — i was a young MS1

a student in first year, fresh on the wards,

but, alas! there was nothing Dr Jones hated more

she stabbed me with words, threw pens in my face,

she called me stupid, annoying, and a huge waste of space

i thought it was my fault, for i didn’t know

that this was a rite many students undergo

the pain hit me hard, and the blows healed to scars

trauma dampened my spirit, and left my heart hard

time lumbered on, as it inevitably does

the doctor i became disowned the girl i was

compassion was a luxury i lacked the heart to own

and empathy was only allowed when i was all alone

i had to turn my soul to steel, you see,  if I was to survive

it was the one way to carry on, the only road to thrive

Dr Jones was the first of a line that grew entirely too long

of supposed teachers whose approach turned devastatingly wrong

granted, there some were godsends who offered me the world

but others made me feel like just another stupid girl

six years passed, and, in that time, i learnt to persevere

to face adversity day-by-day with a stifled, controlled fear

that was, until i met Dr Bush, who shook me to the core

and showed me i hadn’t fully killed that little girl from before

Dr Bush called me names, like stupid, loser, and dumb

the words i remembered well from my year as an MS1

she told me that i needed to remember and revere my ‘place’

and that idiots like me are worthless, merely a waste of space

but i was baffled as to how could she say such things to me

after all, i was a student no longer — i was a senior r3!

but she didn’t care. i was unworthy of respect

yet, just as her sentiments i started to deflect,

i came to a realisation. for the first time, i could see

that there was not really any sense in actually changing me

especially in this reactionary way, in response to others’ words

now that i considered it, the process did seem quite absurd

what delusion made me think that a hardened heart

was somehow less impenetrable? it could still be torn apart!

as for denying feelings, well, there’s no good reason why

maybe that’s the reason, when the chaos died down, that i allowed myself to cry

shifting blame

it’s your fault, he says, as he struggles to digest

the depth of his loss, which, as rage, manifests

i don’t flinch as he shouts, for i understand why

grief is hard to stifle when somebody dies

it’s your fault, they say, as their son gasps for air

it’s a hard sight to watch, but it’s harder to bear

i’d offer a solution, but our options are sparse

every idea i can think of is nothing short of a farce

i can offer compassion — but that’s all i can give

i know it’s pathetic — they just want him to live

but i cannot change what the stars have ordained

so i hear their accusations, and bear witness to their pain

it’s your fault, she says, when the test results return

the prognosis is guarded; things took an unfavourable turn

i weather through her anger, although i feel my walls are chipping

i understand her grief, but, still, my composure’s slipping

it’s your fault, i say, as i look in the mirror

the source of these problems is becoming clearer

there’s one denominator common to everything i see

the one thing these situations have in common…is me

at first it’s my reflection whose sight i can’t stand

but then things progress as i start to understand

that the useless one is me, and my hatred internalises

my reflection focuses in. it’s me it criticizes.

everything that i face, i cannot blame on fate

bad things happen simply because i was too late

or too stupid or too cowardly to do what needed doing

and i spend an eternity witnessing sights that i’ll end up rueing

Super Zero

The adoration of the youth is fickle

The bond we share is thin and brittle

They love me now, but they love a lie

An embellished truth, a trite alibi

I am no goddess. I am but a hoax

The butt of some other off-colour joke

But the kids don’t see me the way I deserve

They paint me with a decency I didn’t preserve

I hear them tell stories of a great superhero

But that isn’t me. I’m a Super Zero.

Some call me Sweetie, and some call me Saint

As gullible as they come, they fall for my feint

My confidence is false, and my knowledge is fake

But they glorify me, then follow in my wake.

I try to dissuade them. This life’s not what it seems.

But they cannot see it. Their heads fill with dreams.

They hail me, proclaim me a great superhero

But they are mistaken. I’m the great Super Zero.

Black Heart Fever

A contagion erupts. I see black on your heart,

that sinister syndrome rumored to start

with black on the heart, on the brain, in the eyes.

Any who catches it surely will die

I try to take cover, but you follow me

The disease holds your eyes, and you cannot see

the things you are doing. Your ignorance shows

by the way you pursue me. The pestilence grows.

We were friends, once, with your heart linked with mine

Everything we did, our paths intertwined.

But then the plague came and crippled your heart

Although we were close, we were both ripped apart

Gossip and makeup meant more than your friends

That was the beginning, I think, of the end

Eyeliner girls with black on their heart

taught you popularity, that devious, foul art.

You soon joined their ranks of makeup and heels,

faking each day until you forgot what was real

Each hour grew worse. The disease poisoned your brain.

I searched for a cure, but my sweat made no gains

I watched you succumb to that frivolous life

Where ties and commitments are cut loose by fame’s knife

A shallow reward is all you ever sought

We were supposed to be forever, but I guess you forgot

I’ll never forget when you first sold me out

My soul’s pain blossomed from that first seed of doubt

Your posse was angry; I had no chance

I was frozen and alone when they began their advance

There was black in their eyes, on their hearts, on their brains

They played with others’ lives like a Candy Crush game

You stood there with them. You didn’t hear when I called

And, when they turned to you, you said you didn’t know me at all

I felt your disease ripping us both apart

The very first day when I saw black on your heart