timings

though forecast and predictable
a first fall can be the final surprise

the white blanket on park and highway
concealing in immaculate contours
the imperfections of natural dying
and unscheduled meetings of the living

screech bump stain
dented truck buckled bike

the dazzled residue stretchered
indoors to a white room of rescue
where walls linen progress chart
uniforms and marathon shoes
admit data and fables of hope

routine struggles to save
with prescribed smiles dispensing anodynes
training trained glances at gauges
and regulated drips of clear bag solutions

flowers and chocolates hour
sounds and colours muddle in
scrape and slush of boots on tiles
sighs of heavy winter coats
and defiant grandmother’s hat
cornucopia of red berries and feathers

move to the bed pull up chairs and ask
sweetheart howya doin?

and begging any reply
press leathery turtleback hands
warm and unconditionally giving
to arms anaemic as boiled chicken legs

grips to supplement
recommended traction pinned
fractured monologues

grandad sends his love
he’d come if he could you know that
don’t worry you’ll soon be right

only this morning were we talking
about the night you set fire to Miss Power’s wig
and poured your beer over her to put it out
not a word from her since

from street mates side of mouth
footnotes on soccer and horny flesh
companionable dirty jokes
what raw and urgent thrive on at twenty-six

United won again the bastards
we’re going to buy you a helmet for when
you’re well and back in the saddle boyo

and somewhere a voice
i braked late

six o’clock
single peals of Angelus bell
signal departure
scrapes and sighs beat slow retreats
words immobilised
moving down passages to freezing exit

unknown to them
bumping into the latest visitor
grey and indistinguishable
from dimming walls and sagged sheets
the implacable enemy friend
shears at the ready
sharp as ground frost settling
now that winter’s announced

24 thoughts on “timings

      • Your words mean a great deal to me, so it’s an even trade. One day, if I am very lucky, I would love to sit and have a drink with you, and fill the air with the weaving of words. 🙂

  1. I was moved by this rich and thoughtful piece of writing I find your poetry/prose filled with images that create the scene perfectly. I may pass on my bike ride today (not a chance). Take care,John.

  2. “and begging any reply
    press leathery turtleback hands
    warm and unconditionally giving
    to arms anaemic as boiled chicken legs”

    There is passionate depth in ‘timings’ and this stanza speaks of love support and compassion that shoots arrow straight to my heart John. The elixir in the clear bags and anodynes all too familiar for me.

    • You, Jon, My Friend, can relate to this more than most because I know you’ve been through medical hell and back again but are strong and well and above all a warrior.
      You are my good friend.

  3. How fragile we are and how suddenly all can change – timings is rich both in sadness and in pathos and the rendering is sensitive and moving

  4. Fantastic story. I have a few favorite lines in this one. But a question-was it you who fell or a friend- I might be missing something which happens-but am always willing to ask the writer a question. xo Hope you are ok!

  5. Thank you so much, Susan, for reading and commenting and for your interest and concern. Some time back, a lad of my acquaintance ran into a truck, wasn’t wearing a helmet and died later in hospital. May he rest in peace.
    Thank you once again.
    Best wishes to you
    john

  6. Made me feel like one of those characters in a South American novel where the guy has just dropped from the hanging box and in that moment before he loses all consciousness his life runs by him on a cinema screen revealing all the little things he’s condemned to repeat to all eternity… well, not that melancholy, but close… great poem sir!

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