Sam Rose - writer, geek, music lover, cancer survivor, optimist, Buddhist.

Category: Poetry (Page 2 of 20)

radiation

we take the afternoon off work to visit the nuclear

medicine department of the hospital

and in the evening I try to access some feeling and I ask
myself

if I cry, will that help flush the radiation out of my body?

or will it just give the bags under my eyes a buttercup glow

as if my pupils had become suns

stop

I say

stop

It was just a CT scan, just a tiny amount of radiation

and you are just melodramatic

you are just a girl, not spiderman

and nothing is happening

but that’s what burns

that still, nothing is quite happening here

no going nuclear, simply stoic

script-sticking

I compromise and just a couple of drops slip through

that is all I can offer

that is all life offers of anything

just a little at a time

just a little glow

to be close

these are not tales of wanting to be close
but tales of need
tales of nothing else will do
tales of we are losing anyway
I tail off when we try to make sense
of what is happening
when all we have is positivity all the while
listening to others complaining about
the mundane, the unimportant, taking
suggestions from people who have
no idea pretending to make notes
in my invisible notebook – my no-book
wearing an invisible grimace as they speak
they don’t have to travel an hour to
talk to an expert, they don’t have to prepare
their bodies for impact, their brains for
impact, their nerves to be wracked
but we pretend that is okay
all the while wanting – no, needing –
to get away, to return home,
wherever home may feel today –
home is where I can tell these tales
before we trail off and stare into space
lost together but tied together
in the want – no, the need –
to be close.

Concave

My heartbeat makes my loose-fitting
t-shirt flutter rhythmically
over my chest. I stop breathing
so I can see the full effect,
watch the fabric
fall in, fall out.
Braless breasts separated as if
in argument, creating a cavity
at my centre. Each tiny shudder
makes me feel thinner
than I am, more fragile
than I am. Makes me wonder
what I am.
Every pound of my chest disturbs
the white cotton, reveals my
torso as empty. A trampoline
for tiny ghosts, only the bounces
to be seen. Only the tremors
of the canvas to be found, the concave
and the rebound.
I am only little,
I am only gentle,
I am only nothing.
But we keep going. One organ at a time,
one anomaly at a time.
Keep cutting it out until there is
nothing left.
What will be left of me,
in the end?
Only tiny ghosts jumping,
only a tiny heart thumping wildly
at nothing.
Fall in, fall out.

The Longshort of June

June, d’you know
when you will end
can anyone tell me
when it ends
if it ends
I have been searching
for the tail of the thread
but it disappears between
my fingers
the month so short
already gone
yet not
never-ending
but not
where does it end

in July
what lies ahead
what sinks beneath
the surface of calm
the surface of thirty
degree heat
of sweat
of sweet words
of meet again soon
of I love yous
of ways we amuse ourselves
press the panic down
press ourselves
into each other
grapple for something
resembling reassurance
resembling advice

we must voice
what lurks beneath
the fear that penetrates our skin
the worry we absorb
anxiety we bathe our muscles in
desperation that resides within
something akin to over-feeling
that overwhelm that sinks between

our skin and bones
and bones
and bones

when I die I want to be a tree

Listen to this poem on my Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/writersam/when-i-die-i-want-to-be-a-tree

I have been thinking about death a lot –
picking out my plot instead of turning away
and I have decided that I want you to hollow
out a tree trunk and place me inside. Don’t
chop it down, leave it growing and upright. Keep
the top open so that crows can make nests
in my hair. It is always a mess anyway. Leave me
there with my arms splayed like branches
so the local kids tell each other terrible stories
about the dead scarecrow woman who lives
in the woods. I wouldn’t want my stories to stop
after I have lost the power to tell them myself.
Could you also make sure I am wearing a welcoming
smile, not a grimace, as even though my face will be
hidden within my standing grave, I still want to be the
light relief. And we mustn’t call it a grave. I was never
that serious, more of a hedonist with tendencies
towards deceitfulness and an unreasonable amount
of laughter which I also think must continue. So with
that in mind, could you record the sound of my
snorts, my giggles, my guffaws and sometimes
play them in the forest, in the dark? Set up your old
boom box among the rocks and put it on repeat. I just
want to lark about and as the afterlife is still uncertain
I need my body to do the work. Just set this up
for me and we can both enjoy the looks of terror
on people’s faces as they rush by. Maybe when you die
you can be a tree here, too. I have been thinking
about life a lot – losing the plot instead of turning
away and I have decided that I want you to turn me
into a wildlife reserve, maybe take a knife to my
stomach where squirrels can burrow when it gets cold
and insects can borrow my eye sockets to use as their home
and the stories about the dead scarecrow woman
who lives in the woods will never stop being told.

Brain Blade

New poem! Read it below or listen to the audio version on Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/writersam/brain-blade

the word is too big for my mouth
so it stays shut and won’t let anything out
and instead all the thoughts crowd my skull
like passengers being dropped  into a small
room from an escalator
squashed together and asphyxiating.
meanwhile my brain is playing with a blade
fingering the edges, wondering
what it would be like
to press, to gently slice,
to ignore all advice,
to plot its demise,
else the body will get there first.
is it better to surrender the country
before the invasion gets too much?
is it better to stop trying, to spend
energy on living brightly and blindly,
than to expend all resources on surviving?
my brain considers this as it tosses
the knife between its hands,
waiting to stop caring about
whether it grasps the handle in its fingers
or catches it by the blade mid-air,
a perfect curve of blood forming
across its fleshy palm
but never quite getting to that place
of complacency. We are none of us safe,
thinks the brain, though minutes ago
it was laughing manically. The brain thinks:
first it comes for the body, and one day
it will come for me.

the knife

there is a minute, literally sixty seconds
or less
when the knife you’re using at dinner
looks inviting
sharper than a butter knife, not quite
a steak knife
enough to elicit something red that just
for a minute
feels like a solution, despite you never
taking it seriously
before, despite your wrist’s resistance,
your arm
thinks maybe, your skin thinks maybe,
somewhere
in the back of your mind a tiny voice
says maybe,
but you keep cutting up your chicken,
finish eating,
take your plate into the kitchen, put
the cutlery
in the dishwasher, let the thought
slip away
as quietly and unnoticeably as it came.

(I never have, and I won’t. It was just a minute. Please don’t worry.)

Dew

The day smells like yellow with a hint of blue
and you look like petrichor –
a little misty around the edges
a haze following you

and who am I, I ask,
now the whisky has stopped
obstructing my view

who are we, in this fresh
morning with dew on our lips,
beads of it at the ends of our hair

and who will we turn into after
noon, when the sun is burning loudly
when our eyes can’t block out the noise
and my hands still smell like your voice

I breathe you in
and wonder if your mouth still
feels like how I looked the night before
spongey with alcohol and thirst
stretched with smiles and open, wild
tongue trying to dampen the fuzzy inside
of your cheek, like dew trying to reach
a dandelion seed

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