#DementiaActionWeek #DementiaActionAwarenessWeek 2021. 17th-23rd May. Day four. We must urge the government to cure the care system. Have you written unpublished/published work about dementia? Created artworks about dementia? Please contact me if you would like your work featured this week.

Day Four

0001

Late onset fallibility

He returns from walking the dog
no longer quite your father.
It’s nearly your dog.

He returns from walking the dog;
he’s only been gone two days,
which admits no ready explanation.

He returns from walking the dog
with a jaunty stride
and somebody else’s shoes.

He returns from walking the dog:
your mother leaves without a word–
she has been dead for five years.

He returns from walking the dog
smiling strangely to himself;
scowling at you, your brother, the front room paper.

He returns from walking the dog;
seems like he’s acting younger
and looking frailer than when he left.

He returns from walking the dog;
wants to speak to your sister, oblivious
that she lives in Queensland now.

He returns from his walk
with a cat on a piece of string
and seven tins of the wrong dog food.

There’s some discussion of it and a recording of Ian reading it here:

Late onset fallibility

-Ian Badcoe

Another Time, Another Country

All they have is the pure impulse to eat. . .
— Carol Muske-Dukes

There’s an element of impulse calling
from the candy bowls, soda bottles,
cookie jars, and cakes on the counter.
Graze free now, and constantly. Enjoy.
What can I get you, she asks again.

There. That’s the quirk I don’t get.
If we’re not chewing, she’s unhappy
in some place rooted in her — where?
Soul? Heart? Maybe psyche and history.
Where does impulse hide compulsion?

I’ll never map the landscape. It just is.
A child of immigrants, deserted wife,
she’s never talked about the past hurts.
Now she can’t remember yesterday,
leaving bowls of past forever empty.

Lennart Lundh (First appeared in his “Poems Against Cancer”, 2018)

Hint of Some Memory Gone

I do not know
what this I want you to read.

A shaft of light scurrying in a room
does not care about
the objects you can see because of it.

I murmur,
“I desire to go home.”

Now don’t say,
“This house has been your home.”
It cannot be so unless I permit
it to host me

in flesh now,
in a memory when I leave.

-Kushal Poddar

If Only

If only
I could take my pen
and write you back the way you were.

I’d play with the words
re-order them
so they made perfect sense
remove repetition and fill in the blanks.

I’d craft every line
and hone every phrase
plug the holes that have appeared
like torn tissue
in your brain.

I’d reach for rich imagery
summon every metaphor
add cinematic vision
to recreate you on the page
with all your former
vibrancy.

I’d halt the slide into shadows
sweep the cobwebs
from those vacant eyes
brighten them
with laughter again.

I’d give you back
all those stolen memories,
capture once more
your incandescent smile.

If only
I could write you in indelible ink
you’d be an unforgettable poem.

(First published in Graffiti, 2021)

-Val Ormrod

 

mother by Michael Dickel

-Michael Dickel

Clocks

I already carry you with me
Like you’ve gone
Fitfully, fearfully. A quiet ritual
Of stepping stones, gently.

I carry you with me
As head dipped, aisle step
Wicker, willow, reed for sleep
Beauty in my arms to keep

I am carrying you with me
The time slip, slow droop and drop
The rubbing out the now the not

The words are stalling. There’s mental furring,
The hand that reaches out to me, searching
Then there’s the circle back to me too
As I look at myself in a version of you

Lines creeping, face folding
A sky that is racing, air coolly quickening
Seeds burst; roots thrust
Into the earth
With me
Within me

-Lauren Thomas

The Blessing

Raanana, March 9, 2018

Just suppose instead of dying
You kept on living.
You get to keep your mind
But it’s unconnected to any other
Living man or woman’s view of reality.
In your reality the dead you loved
Go on living,
Doing what they always did.
It’s the living loved ones disappoint you
With their separate realities
Not including you in their trips to the beach
Or family dinners
Since frankly your grotesqueness scares the kids.
No, the dead never disappoint.
They call each day
And take you out to lunch.
The place you worked,
Though long shut down,
Still employs you
And your old home where you grew up,
Though long sold to someone else,
Still waits for your return.
But sometimes they do disappoint,
Even the dead,
Like last week when
Mama and your sisters stopped calling you
And no one living gave you their numbers
So you could check that they’re ok
And you thought that they were mad at you,
It made you cry,
You hadn’t wronged them that you knew.
Some days are good
And some are bad
When you live with the dead and the living,
But you can’t see
The time you occupy
Has calved like some ice floe
From the world,
Maybe that’s a blessing.

-Mike Stone

The Lock Picker
Camilla of Palewell Press writes of “The Lock Picker”:

Sue Proffitt’s remarkable second poetry collection, The Lock-Picker, is about living alongside her mother who was suffering from dementia. Her poems explore the nature of self, memory, identity and what it truly means only to exist in the present moment. There are few collections that cover this ground, and in such a way that the reader and perhaps other carers, might feel changed as a result, wiser, kinder, and as Proffitt hopes in her preface, ‘a little less alone’.

I will be featuring poems from the book the rest of the week. Here is the first:

You can order a copy for £9.99 (excluding postage) from this page. Please contact Palewell Press at enquiries@palewellpress.co.uk if you have any delivery queries.

Ropes

Summer, sun pressing against the window:
a child denied attention.
The fire is on, ‘The King and I’
choruses its story.

Do you remember?
lobbing memories like ropes
begging a catch.
Yes I do!

Your smile returns you
so that even now
six years disappear –
singing Getting to Know You

as I knead the bumps
and cracks in your feet,
resting in my hands
like broken birds.

And I wonder who’s clinging to whom –
you, grasping at the parts
of yourself I throw towards you,
or me, watching

your frantic eyes go under,
scrabbling in the wreckage
for something, anything
to keep you afloat.

By every bedside
in every airless room
so many, half-in, half-out,
flail beseeching hands

and those of us on the edge
hear our voices pleading
let go! let go!
all the time throwing ropes.

The 3D Clock

Home

Casually, you ask me
if I’ll describe for you
what your old house was like.
I hope my surprise doesn’t show.

It’s frightening to think
that forty years of your life
could suddenly just disappear
down some cognitive sink-hole.

Luckily, I’ve got with me
something I can show —
snaps I took on my smartphone
the last time I was there.

I’m pleased that my “parting shots”,
only an afterthought then,
have come in useful now,
as I swipe through the pictures with you.

Everything looks as it should:
the garden’s neat and tidy,
though autumn has been through
and stripped the poplars bare.

My car parked on your drive
and the curtains we left up
(part of the deal, plus carpets)
help make the place look lived in.

No one would know
that only the day before
the house-clearer had been in
and emptied everything out —

a lifetime’s worth of junk,
stuff we didn’t want,
things you’d forgotten you had,
before the forgetting began.

-Stephen Claughton

(First published in “The 3-D Clock”, Dempsey & Windle, 2020)

*

Seventh and eighth in my heroic crown sonnet sequence for #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek

7. I Find Myself

How did I find myself here, a spindrift?
Not enough tea in this. It’s just water.
Sugar. Can you put more sugar in it?
What’s your name? Thankyou. That tastes much better.

I need the loo. Can you help me? Always
somebody screams in here. You like my hat?.
I need the loo. Where you going? Away?
O, I know her she’s nice. Yes, love. Toilet.

She’s screaming again. I’m going to lie
down on my bed, love. Will you stay with me?
My clothes no longer fit. They need to buy
me more, that aren’t so tight. I like pretty.

Carried coal in on his back. My father.
Water’s edge or earth’s end? Which is kinder?

8. Edge or Earth’s

“Water’s edge or earth’s end? Which is kinder?
What do words mean? Getting more like pictures.
What are they showing me? What is this for?
A pen. What do you do with it? Mixtures

of tiny lines. That’s pretty.” Because she
can’t write, but enjoys the sounds I’m making
these verses up for her. I read so she
can listen, recording what she’s saying.

I have to report how she interacts
with other people in here. Make sure she
takes her medication else, she’ll fall back
and her condition worsen more quickly.

Sentences she says really get to me:
“Only strangers now, who say they know me.”

-Paul Brookes

Bios and Links

Lauren Thomas

 is a Welsh poet whose most recent writing is in The Crank Literary Magazine, Briefly Zine, Re-side Magazine, Abridged and Green Ink Poetry. She has poetry forthcoming in Dreich’s Summer Anywhere anthology, Songs of Love and Strength by TheMumPoemPress and was winner of Poems for Trees competition with Folklore publishing. She is an MA student in Poetry Writing with Newcastle University and The Poetry School, London.

 laurenkthomas@co.uk

Twitter @laurenmywrites

Instagram @thoughtsofmanythings

-Val Ormrod’s

poetry has been published by Eye Flash, Hedgehog Poetry, Graffiti, Hammond House, Gloucester Writers Network and in several anthologies. In 2019 she won the Magic Oxygen International Poetry Prize and Ware Poets Open Competition, was shortlisted for the Plough Prize, Wells Festival of Literature and nominated for the Forward Prize single poem award. Her memoir In My Father’s Memory was published in 2020.

Stephen Claughton 

was interviewed by The Wombwell Rainbow in April last year. His poems have appeared widely in magazines and he reviews regularly for London Grip. This is a poem from The 3-D Clock, a pamphlet about his late mother’s dementia, which Dempsey & Windle published in 2020. Copies are available from their website here.

-Fiona Perry

was born and brought up in the north of Ireland but has lived in England, Australia, and New Zealand. Her short fiction won first prize in the Bath Flash Fiction Award 2020 and was shortlisted for the Australian Morrison Mentoring Prize in 2014 and 2015. Her flash fiction performance won second prize in the Over the Edge Fiction Slam 2021. Her poem, “Fusion”, was longlisted in the Fish Poetry Prize 2021, and she contributed poetry to the Label Lit project for National Poetry Day (Ireland) 2019. Her poetry and fiction has been published internationally in publications such as Lighthouse, Skylight47, Spontaneity, and Other Terrain. Follow her on Twitter: @Fionaperry17

Her first collection, Alchemy, is available from Turas Press (Dublin).

-Margaret Royall

is a Laurel Prize nominated poet. She has been shortlisted for several poetry prizes and won the Hedgehog Press’ collection competition 2020. She has two poetry collections:

Fording The Stream and Where Flora Sings, a memoir in prose and verse, The Road To Cleethorpes Pier and a new pamphlet, Earth Magicke out April 2021. She has been widely published online and in print, most recently: Hedgehog Press, The Blue Nib, Impspired & forthcoming in Sarasvati and Dreich.

She performs regularly at open mic events and facilitates a women’s poetry group in Nottinghamshire.

Website: https://margaretroyall.com

Twitter: RoyallMargaret

Instagram : meggiepoet

Facebook Author Page: Facebook.com/margaretbrowningroyall

Annick Yerem

lives and works in Berlin. In her dreams, she can swim like a manatee. Annick tweets @missyerem and has, to her utmost delight, been published by Pendemic, Detritus, @publicpoetry, RiverMouthReview, #PoetRhy, Anti-Heroin-Chic, Rejection Letters, Dreich, 192, The Failure Baler and Rainbow Poems. https://missyerem.wordpress.comhttps://linktr.ee/annickyerem

-Nigel Kent

is a Pushcart Prize nominated poet (2019 and 2020) and reviewer who lives in rural Worcestershire. He is an active member of the Open University Poetry Society, managing its website and occasionally editing its workshop magazine.

He has been shortlisted for several national competitions and his poetry has appeared in a wide range of anthologies and magazines. In 2019 Hedgehog Poetry Press published his first collection, ‘Saudade’, following the success of his poetry conversations with Sarah Thomson, ‘Thinking You Home’ and ‘A Hostile Environment’. In August 2020 Hedgehog Poetry Press published his pamphlet, Psychopathogen, which was nominated for the 2020 Michael Marks Award for Poetry Pamphlets and made the Poetry Society’s Winter List.

In 2021 he was shortlisted for the Saboteur Award for Reviewer of Literature.

To find out more visit his website: www.nigelkentpoet.wordpress.com or follow him on Twitter @kent_nj

-Olive M. Ritch

is a poet originally from Orkney. She was the recipient of the Scottish Book Trust’s Next Chapter Award 2020 and in 2006, she received the Calder Prize for Poetry from the University of Aberdeen. Her work has been extensively published in literary magazines, anthologies and websites including Poetry Review, Agenda, The Guardian, New Writing Scotland, The Poetry Cure (Bloodaxe) and the Scottish Poetry Library. Her work has also been broadcast on Radio 4.

One thought on “#DementiaActionWeek #DementiaActionAwarenessWeek 2021. 17th-23rd May. Day four. We must urge the government to cure the care system. Have you written unpublished/published work about dementia? Created artworks about dementia? Please contact me if you would like your work featured this week.

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