Poems from Year of the Wasp
Give him a shot of Stemetil
as he thinks
of holding a match burning down to the pinch,
of a summer sun setting behind a line
of Norfolk pines on a tidal river,
of the resonance of cicadas in January,
of men loading fishing boats onto weeping
as he murmurs as they cart him from the house,
‘Love is as the pilot of a TV series never made.
He slurs, ‘I have to spew.’
And the ambo goes, ‘Use the bag, champ.’
And the nurse goes, ‘Do you know where you are?’
And he goes, ‘In an ambulance.’
Although he isn’t. Not anymore.
And, so, the interrogations begin
as stalactites of blood coagulate,
sharpen into stakes above bed eight.
The giant toad squatting, dead centre of the room,
is not a figment, but a fact. He lies on its white tongue
as a black swan of a woman wheels above him.
Feathers tickle skin that covers the too-small skull
that is his face; remind him of Coole, of a funeral
in his brain, of nothing. Smiling, she says, ‘So,
you want Miles Davis.’ Shows a set of small white
baby teeth that were never lost, slides the tongue back
inside the gullet, where he lies, picturing her eating meat
rare at Vlados. Her voice is piped through his headphones.
She says, ‘Remain perfectly still,’ although nothing ever is.
Then Something Blue begins and he thinks, ‘Almost nothing.’
His life repeats on the portable TV
power-drilled to the hospital ceiling.
The actor playing him is blonde,
but the Minobos plays herself
in the sex scenes
where the he that is not him
presses the she that is her
into the bed—searching
for the part of her that cannot lie.
Joel Deane is a poet, novelist, journalist and speechwriter. He has published seven books and been a finalist for the Melbourne Prize for Literature and the Walkley Book Award, as well as being short listed for the Anne Elder Award. In 2012, Joel had a stroke and lost the ability to write poetry. His new poetry collection, Year of the Wasp, tracks his struggle to rediscover a poetic voice.
Year of the Wasp is published by Hunter Publishers.