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.