Gimlet eyed and a slitted mouth
compressed to keep his anger
contained, he was night charge
of a geriatric ward decades ago
when red brick buildings hosted
the infirm of mind. Really wanted
to work in wards of more hope
but the aged was where he stayed
transfer requests always ignored.
In winter would max up the ward
heaters after midnight, then switch
them off, open all the windows
to let in near zero cold air
and wait for what he believed
was 'the old man's friend,'
pneumonia, to stalk past the beds
clammy hands caressing the chests
of the oblivious, before carrying
them out the doors to the waiting
hearse. Saw himself as a saviour
'doing the best thing for everyone.'
If you've any comments on this poem, Barry Southam would be pleased to hear them,