Poems

         “…poetry ever reaches those parts which are the last to diminish”

T S Eliot 

First Prize: NHS section of the inaugural Hippocrates Poetry & Medicine Poetry Prize, 2010.

it’s about a man

it’s about a man who healed the sick
as far as he was able
and this is the man who begged for penicillin
to cure a child
as far as he was able
it’s about a man who burnt Fleming’s letter
when the answer came back, None to Spare
and it’s about a man who spoke at the funeral
as far as he was able
and this is the man who seven decades later
still remembers the date on the letter he wrote
it’s about a man who waits in his chair
for a nurse to bring him whisky and water
this is the man who drinks the New Year in
although it’s a man who can no longer hear
who peers out of his frame
as far as he is able
who thinks his own thoughts
it’s about a man who comforted others
death is inevitable, comes to us all
it’s about a man who is showered daily
and who now understands
as far as he is able

Wendy French

from surely you know this, collection, tall-lighthouse, 2010

On the Shoreline

I have come to love the fisherman’s upturned boat,

seaweed-darkened. I walk on the shingle

a tree without branches grows on the shoreline –

further inland the dog-rose

I’ve forgotten a truth I once knew –

at a harp without strings the harpist flounders.

The music is there in the ache of my body,

in words beyond this night.

Wendy French

from Splintering the Dark, Rockingham Press, 2005

The Therapist Talks Back

Talking to you is like screwing down a coffin lid

or carrying water in cupped hands

across the desert. I’ve never known you not to cheat

but face to face you never tell a lie, and this

is like carrying water in cupped hands.

That’s how hard it was to try and reach you

but face to face you never tell a lie.

You just hid the tablets till we were out of sight.

That’s how hard it was to try and reach you.

If you’d survived the weekend it would have been all right.

You just hid the tablets till we were out of sight.

In the ambulance you asked if you were going to die.

If you’d survived the weekend it would have been all right.

A nurse telephone to say that she’d been with you when you died.

In the ambulance you’d asked if you were going to die.

In our last session you seemed to want to live.

A nurse telephoned to say that she’d been with you when you died.

Across the desert I’ve never known you not to cheat.

In our last session you’d seemed to want to live.

Talking to you is like screwing down a coffin lid.

Wendy French

7 thoughts on “Poems

  1. Raine Geoghegan

    These poems are quite beautiful, a purity and deep sensitivity. I am currently on the MA Creative writing programme at Chichester, am half way through and am really enjoying it. I write mainly poetry but have also written a radio play. I’m very interested in Writing for Personal development and Healing. I created and facilitated a programme called ‘Writing from the Heart’ but am taking a break from it at present.
    I’m also interested in exploring movement and words, the way in which some words have an effect on the body, can invite the body to move.

    I shall buy one of your books and read some more of your lovely poetry.
    warm wishes
    Raine Geoghegan

    Reply
  2. Wendy French

    Many thanks for this comment Raine. Your MA sounds very interesting. Does Stephanie Norgate teach on your course? I knew her when I did my MA. I’m fascinated by your interest in radio plays. My 10 minutes play about a young psychotic girl was put on at a local pub last night. Good to hear from you. And thank you for your kind comments.

    Reply
    1. Raine Geoghegan

      Hi Wendy – I’m sorry that I didn’t pick this message up in 2013. Yes, Stephanie Norgate was both my tutor and Head of Creative Writing. I have now finished my MA and am busy putting together my first pamphlet.
      All good wishes.

      Raine

      Reply
  3. Joanna Hollins

    This is a little strange to write here, but I saw the comment above and wanted to tell you how much I love surely you know this. It was given to me a few years ago and it’s the poetry collection I wish I could write… Anyhow, I’m studying creative writing n stuff and currently applying for an MA Poetry, so it’s been a big inspiration for me. Congratulations on the Hippocrates prize, your writing is incredible!

    Reply
    1. Wendy French

      What a very generous and heart warming comment Joanna! Thank you very much. I wish you all the very best with your writing.
      Maybe our paths will cross one day.Thank you
      Wendy

      Reply
  4. Alan Murray

    Such wonderful, moving poems. No one writes mourning and melanchology quite like you. Don’t forget to update your events page so that I can have the pleasure of hearing you read your poems some time – Alan Murray.

    Reply
  5. Wendy French

    Many thanks Alan you are so thoughtful. I will update my website! But thank you for your words on my poems. You boost a confidence when it’s needed. I have learnt a lot from you and you’ve given me many thoughts about ‘what the self is’. Thank you

    Reply

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