I am moved by Lady Percy 's expression of love. CLICK HERE - see if you agree.
Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
responses, apologies. I hold posts to 300 words* having found less is better than more.
I re-comment on comments and re-re-re-comment on re-re-comments.
* One exception: short stories.

Friday, 9 October 2015

Intimations of the NHS

Eighty And Beyond

Just take your time and draw breath down those moist
Pink freeways, access to that chemistry,
That Canaan in your lungs, where air not wine
Becomes the life-sustaining stimulant.

Yes, do it now, experience again
That well-won ease, that swelling benefit,
That key to zestful continuity
Which conjugates the living present tense.

Once in my health, those lost uncaring days,
I woke in bed, mad with an urge to stand,
For lying rhymes with dying and I’d not
Book passage in a horizontal plane.

Air was in short supply. No, that’s not true,
I was denied its superfluity.
It seemed my inner pipes were shrinking down,
To pinholes through my physiology.

And in this state I found that more meant less,
When I breathed hard, less went to where it ought,
And harder still brought nothing in return
Except the prospect of oblivion.

Panic and patience, rarely neighbourly,
Were forced to get along. And I was forced
To take my air in meanly measured sips
Despite my need for more encouragement.

Sips became gulps of freely flowing air:
Relief, but clouded with predictive gloom.
Was this the open door through which I’d pass,
Fighting the closures in a losing war?

Yet gloom can be a spur, I shrugged and sniffed.
It is the door; I can’t be different.
All those who pass have simply qualified,
And death is breath that never made the tide.


  1. Beautiful language, indecipherable in spots (it's early here, is that an anti- exercise theme in there? I can't place "the night of freely flowing air"). Rhythmically superb, and the thrust is firm.

  2. MikeM: Some day I must pay tribute to your pre-/post-dawn critiques. They're quite heroic and also offer me the opportunity for second thoughts. Amendments to the first two lines of verse one, verse three and verse seven may make things clearer. Yet again, thanks for your response.

  3. I wish I'd copied the original post so I could compare. This seems less lovely. Too explanatory.

  4. MikeM: In effect only four lines out of a total of thirty-two were changed. I suspect you're seeing it now with a cooler, more attuned eye. Il miglior fabbro ("the better craftsman"), as Eliot paid tribute to Pound, after P had hacked great chunks out of The Waste Land.

    VR said she'd read it and thought it "Risky." I took that as a compliment.

  5. Oh RR. I'm trying not to make a star of the shit that landed on my plate last Thursday and now this!

  6. Ellena: I have frequently said you write like an angel; oft praised your elliptical style. But this time you've left me utterly baffled.

  7. Ellena: Oh no, never apologise here at Tone Deaf. It's much more likely to be my fault than yours. That's if there is a fault; you're just a bit too subtle.