Drop-in centre. Photos Manuel Capurso, text Roisin Tierney (4/5)

© Manuel Capurso.

Diogenes Syndrome by Roisin Tierney

Old man, we can barely enter for the stench,
the ever-ripening fetor that swarms your flat,
that creeps beneath the door.  Your carpet dappled
with piles of your own manure.  Your bath piled high
with ‘stuff’.  The toilet blocked, a floating Vesuvius at its brim.
It’s been some time.  We interview you elsewhere.

The doctor notes your gentleness and filth,
Your gummy smile, lank hair and jovial good humour.
You swear you eat, mention cans of beer.
(You even lie, and say you exercise,
which makes us laugh, oh how we laugh at that!)
You only cry once, when you mention ‘rent’.
You fear perhaps the landlord wants you out.
You don’t know why.

My dear, its not too late, we’ll scrub you up,
allocate you your own social worker.
It’ll not happen again, not to you,
And we’re sorry that it even happened once.
Not that you even know what we’re on about –

nor we enough to force aside
that thing, that whatever-it-is, that blocks your light.

© Roisin Tierney.

All the poems in this series are from Dream Endings, by Roísin Tierney, Rack Press 2011, and used by permission.

N.B.: Editor’s note: the subject of Roisin’s poem is not the gentleman in Manuel’s photo.