Since volunteering to man the urn,
I’m less concerned about being on the dole,
with no proper work to kick start the day.
Life in the hospital seems easy going;
keep taking the tablets, sit around,
smoke cigarettes, do a quiz. Strange thing
is that people don’t seem to mind,
after years in these confines,
sectioned in white washed halls and wards,
long corridors bursting with emptiness,
handrails a reminder of plodding movement.
Tranquillised silence fills the air now.

Stan’s still here, John Wayne’s biggest fan,
three shots kill you stone dead,
said with word salad either side,
profound but for his laugh and smile.
He seems happy to endlessly circle the hall.

Bob’s the man, only heard him speak once,
under very mild duress, four cig brands in as many seconds.
I smiled and gave him two Regal.
He normally used his hands,
karate chops meaning I want,
the context telling you what.

Do away with words, refine routine,
over the years the priorities are clear,
cigs, tea, food and sleep;
in the hall with an urn nearby, tea
else sadly, smoke by elimination.

What’s to be said? Odd at first, almost a joke
when I asked Bob what he meant,
tea, coffee, orange? as he bent forward,
chopping in pairs with half mast trousers,
red braces and lips pursed. I was helped
eventually and coincidentally Bob took two sugars.

And I ask, what do they think about?
Some have nothing to look back on.

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