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2 poems by Liam Bates


I’m expecting the doctor’s call at eleven. I answer

at ten past. She asks me if it’s me who’s answered.

I say it is as if I’m sure of it. Her voice is wooly

and small, like my neighbour’s rabbit. I’m taking

two a day, that’s right isn’t it? That is right. I’m doing

well, I say, as well as anyone. It’s a strange time,

I agree, laughing as if I’ve said something funny.

In a not too different world, we could be two friends

drinking red wine in generous fireside armchairs;

I can almost hear the spitting of logs and feel

the orange heat rolling across me, only it isn’t true.

I no longer allow myself to drink and the doctor,

I bet she hardly ever gets a day off to spend with friends.


Negligible vitamin C to be found

in fruit machine citrus.

A spooky story lit from below. He sips

his pint and breaks

another tenner. Serene

like a skinny Buddha

beneath the Bodhi tree

or wading from the shore

with breeze block armbands.

The trick for motion sickness

—it’s to keep the horizon

in sight. A frame of reference

to rely on. Your instincts

expect the floor to stop lurching.

Your instincts can’t be trusted. Bar

Bar Seven. No payout.

He can’t retire yet,

not until he’s had the chance

to win his teeth back.


Liam Bates is a writer from the West Midlands. His pamphlet, 'Working Animals', is available from Broken Sleep.


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