Drop-in centre. Photos Manuel Capurso, text Roisin Tierney (3/5)

© Manuel Capurso.

Vera by Roisin Tierney

Vera, eighty-something, sprightly yet,
lives with her daughter in her council flat.
She keeps it spick and span – immaculate.
Her short term memory’s gone, or going fast,
her grandchildren a blur.  She loves them all,
but cannot place a face.  Her keys are not
where she last laid them, the front door
flies open in the middle of the night.
She knows her husband’s dead these twenty years,
that they were happy, but can’t say what he did,
still manages to shop and use the stairs,
takes all her meds and likes to watch TV,
has only one perceptual delusion;
each night she sees a soldier in her room,
standing in the corner, leaning on
his rifle, looking towards her.
She thinks he’s real.  This does not disturb her.

© 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 lady in Manuel’s photo is emphatically not the Vera of Roisin’s poem. 

Drop-in centre. Photos Manuel Capurso, text Roisin Tierney (2/5)

© Manuel Capurso.

Dream Endings by Roisin Tierney:

Horses stand and plume the air with breath.
They bow and dip their heads.
Feathers are fitted to their foreheads.
They are well-feathered now!  They stamp and sweat.
And someone is getting a right send-off.
Someone is getting the feathers.
See that glass carriage.  O Cinderella!
O dream world of happy endings!
Look.  A leaf is floating like a feather.
Look at the usher’s kind face.
He is dressed in tails.
He pats a horse. Flicks from his cuff
a tiny feather.  O Methuselah!
He mounts the rig.
Watch the children watching, open-mouthed.
Watch the horses shake their dressy heads.
They are ready to go now.  They are ready and willing.
The carriage is turning. O Hallelujah!
Watch red and yellow leaves floating in the air.
Watch the glass carriage disappear.
There is nobody in it. There is nobody there.
See the blackbird fluffing his feathers.
See the boy kick a ball down the street.
It is starting to rain. They will get wet.
There will be pall-bearers.
There will be a family, lipsticked and brave.
The carriage will open and shut. Then they’ll be off.
Recently Deceased One!
May your ceremony be simple, sincere.
Rain fills the puddles that edge your grave.
O Tinkerbell! Lao Tzu! Narnia!

© Roisin Tierney.

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


Drop-in centre. Photos Manuel Capurso, poems Roisin Tierney (1/5)

© Manuel Capurso 2011.

The Suicides by Roisin Tierney:

Softly they settle round me now,
gentle birds come home to roost,
dropping and shuffling one by one
onto the desk, open drawers,
heaped directories, nursing tracts.
They do not breathe and yet we might
be swapping breath, in for out,
so close they are, so present.  They
are weightless, obviously and yet,
so great their need, or mine, we press
forehead to forehead one by one,
each for a second only, until
we have all touched.  The hospital,
Victorian and beautiful, is still.
My list is cruel.  Their various ends-
Hanged. Fell from a height. Overdose.  etc.
make for hard reading. Some were very young.
Many received the best of care.  I sigh.
We, the Suicides and I, put down
our books, pens, burdens, leave the building.

© Roisin Tierney

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

Welcoming smiles … (2/3)

Shop window, Lewisham. © David Secombe 1997

From The British Dental Journal, 24 June 2006:

Londoners too busy to brush teeth

The hustle and bustle of city life may be causing Londoners to neglect their teeth, according to a survey conducted by the British Dental Health Foundation and HealthSure.

The National Dental Survey found that one in three people living in London admitted to never brushing their teeth for long enough, and this statistic was three times higher in London than in some places in the country and almost twice as high as the national average.

Dr Nigel Carter, chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, commented, “It is very worrying to think that people in London are struggling to even find the time to brush their teeth properly.”

In the survey, only 11% of people in Southampton usually brushed for less than two minutes while other scores were: Newcastle (23%), Cambridge (20%), Manchester (14%), Cardiff (14%), Bristol (14%), Belfast (15%), Nottingham (18%) and Edinburgh (24%).