TONY WALSH
DRASTIC SURGERY

A cold Monday morning, a queue to the door Breath steams up windows, coats drip on floors Pushchairs and wheelchairs and Zimmers and sticks Bring the old and the cold and the poor and the sick “He can’t get it up”, “She can’t keep it down” “He keeps throwing up”, “Is it meant to be brown?” “I can’t get to sleep”, “I can’t keep awake” The heartache and heartbreak and shivers and shakes The granddad whose hold on his bladder has lessened The auntie depressed by her anti-depressants Diarrhoea, pyorrhoea, gonorrhoea and flu Prescriptions, afflictions and kids stuck on glue The anaemic, bulimic, anorexic, obese Diabetics, epileptics, antiseptics and yeast The tupperware beakers of strange coloured pee The things wrapped in hankies that no man should see The work-shy malingerers and chronic lead swingers And those diagnosed by their stained yellow fingers The sick notes for fit blokes, the big toes gone manky The sex lives of ex-wives with no hanky panky The ailments and ointments, constipation and boils Injections, infections, inflammation and coils The ulcers and pulses and dodgy auld tickers The itching and scratching and delving in knickers The aches and the pains and the snot and the sneezes The breaks and the sprains and the coughs and the wheezes The toddlers teething and babies not feeding The choking and heaving and trouble with breathing The weight and the pressure, the strain and the shame The grind on the mind of the names in the frame The homebirths and still births, STD, NSU Failed marriage, miscarriage then beat black and blue The bad breaths and cot deaths, the lotions and potions The fevers and grievers, the going through the motions The widows with shadows, the kids who can’t play The palavers with fathers now farther away The verruca’d, the snookered, the dribble and drool The crippled, cracked nipples and blood in the stools Diagnosis, cirrhosis, prognosis, and piles The lung cancer, young cancer, teardrops and smiles Sadness and madness and badness and spite Moaning and groaning and grieving and shite Vomit and grommets and fuss, puss and piss Fist fights and last rites, and no-one to kiss The asthma and eczema, the piercings gone septic The beer guts and tear ducts and chronic dyspeptics The pimples and samples and things spat in jars The kids hit by men driving family cars The people made sick by a lifetime of labours The people made ill by the lifestyle of neighbours Hepatitis, colitis and fungal infections Tonsillitis, arthritis and jungle injections The neck pain and back pain, the pains in the arse The bathos and pathos, the drama and farce The lush full of thrush then a rush of hot flushes The drug pusher sick from the drug that he pushes The mum of the druggie, her own drugs inside her The children of drinkers who puke up on cider The kids missing schooling with chronic soar throats Come from homes filled with smoke in inadequate coats The infertile, the pregnant, the dazed and confused The indignant malignant, the raped and abused The weeping of women and children and sores The unsettled stomachs and unsettled scores The mother of 30 is riddled with cancer Her two simple questions get no simple answers Desperation, frustration, anger, despair Her kids facing Care Homes that don’t seem to care The anxious the stressed and the cold and the lonely The clinically depressed and the old folks who only Want someone to talk to, to save an hour’s heating The wife beater’s wife and the latest wife beating The old man from Poland with Auschwitz tattoos The self-preservation by pickling in booze The overweight mum brings her overweight daughter Her breakfast consists of the Mars bar she bought her 13 and pregnant - 26 weeks Too late to “get rid of”, the mother/child weeps The parents and teachers, the neighbours, relations Their judgement will scald her - “Congratulations?” And the drinkers come in for repeated prescriptions “Same again, love?” - no need for descriptions And every day junkies with everyday tales Of how yesterday’s system every day fails The old woman’s life mapped in varicose veins The young woman cutting to let out the pain When years come too early, when help comes too late When lives worse than death end with deaths worse than fate But desperately cheerful, they’ll say “Mustn’t grumble” “You have to keep going”, “There’s worse off,” they mumble And clutching prescriptions for tablets of stone Post office, pharmacy, scratch-card and home. Who’s next?


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