Words Can’t Express

When the doctor said ‘cancer’

I immediately stopped smoking.

Went home, opened the fridge

but the salad was all gone.

The blueberries were there though, my very own superfood.

I ate two whole punnets

and felt my kidneys grow back.


Months Later.

Took a wheelbarrow out to the shed,

put everything I had in it.

Rolled it down the hill to your house,

said it’s all yours now.

You replied I wasn’t the one who was sick.

‘Yeah but I told her

to take me with her

if she was never coming back’.


Years Later.

My liver couldn’t withstand all the stuff

I drowned it in over the years

so now my guts are fermenting,

every breath I exhale

is poisonous and every one I breathe in

isn’t much better because the world has gone to shit.


Present Day.

I put my headphones on

as I stride toward the double doors.

No expression on my face as I push through them

apart from the strain in my eyes.

I go searching for my sister,

where they have her hooked up to a machine they say is keeping her alive.

but I’m not so sure.

Doctor asks me a question:


‘Why would I do that for?’

I’m told she can’t beat this,

she’ll be gone one way or the other.

Gone forever and I’d be left tied up like a dog on a post.

Move to the coast, get some clean living,

let the sun dry the tears

before they run down my face.

Forget how good all the bad things taste

and how bad all the good things are missed.




Splinters sat stream-lined

under the skin of my hands

from all the work

I helped my father do.

Afterwards we’d sit

sipping lemonade and beer

in our seats on the porch,

soaking swelling in jars of vinegar

as the Sunday afternoon said goodbye.


At night the rice boiled over,

cooked dry while the steak

stayed seared on one side.

He’d have my mother

up against the kitchen counter,

his eyes volcanic

with simmering rage and shame.


In my room on the calculator

sweat sailed from my brow

as I struggled to stay in touch

with the other students at school.

The sound of a slap

outside my door from somewhere

else in the house

was enough to make my jaw lock shut.


The corner of her lip cracked red,

my knuckles white gripping my cutlery,

his glazed eyes.

Around the kitchen table

where my brother used to sit.

And none of us was able

to quite understand where he went.

So there was nothing else to do

but wait until the next day

when the sun was there again

and my dogs wagging tail would tell me

if anything, he at least was okay.