‘In a Hospital the Size of a Small Town’ – Niall Griffiths

 

he lay on the bed naked
hairy giblets on show
he’s dying said his family
& I said don’t worry
does he want some tea
fuck off with your tea he said &
he’s dying said his family
don’t worry I said

she was reading The Lover
& so was I
her left arm caused her agony because
it was the only part of her not cancerous
I miss my horses she said
milk no sugar
one day we’ll ride together

I was in Crete he said
my granddad too I said
I’ll never forgive them he said
I’ll hate them til I die
he laughed then
& looked out of the window
his slippers had a crest on the toes
those Nazi bastards

the ward smelled of dinners
& the chemicals beneath
I scraped the leftovers into a binbag
stacked the trolley in the lift
and pressed LG

in the catheter pipes the blood-clots shoaled
in the kidney bowls sat stuff
uniforms dashed and curtains were pulled
so that death could be met in secret

& I poured the tea &
I gathered plates & cups
around in the big brown building
humans & their vast machinery
tried to keep other humans alive

sun rose, sun set
beyond this building horses ran
the sky was filled with fear & flame
& beyond that building horses ran
men dismembered men &
love was doomed to die

I poured the tea &
I handed out the food &
I scraped the scraps into binbags &
I earned the fare back home

Niall Griffiths’ collected poems, Red Roar, was published last year by Wrecking Ball Press. www.niallgriffiths.com

‘In a Hospital the Size of a Small Town’ is published in Issue Six of The Lonely Crowd, alongside two other poems by Niall Griffiths.

Copyright © Niall Griffiths, 2017. Banner image © Jo Mazelis, 2017.