Labour in Vain”

I’ll keep this raw – unedited – as the events are raw, precipitate, unfinished.


Outside in the corridor
Staring at my trainers
And the soup drip stain
On the thigh of my jeans
Wishing I had change for the vending machine.
Porters wheel stretcher beds
Bearing bulging bellies
Grunting in discomfort
Cursing the pain
They won’t go through again
Until the next time
The next and the next after that.
The doors swish open
The groaning loudens
They swish shut
It goes quiet
Until the next one wheels in..
Is that hollering
From my wife or some other mans?
God I’m gasping for a fag.
Did my dad sit and smoke
A cigarette in an Izal reeking corridor
While he was waiting and mum was labouring?
I saw him once in real life
I glimpsed his back as he walked away
I must have been no more than three
I have him in a photograph
Mum and bits of him
His left leg, left arm and hand
Wedding corsage on half a jacket,
No face – brim of a fedora
If I put the photo to a mirror there
Might be most of a hat, arm, leg
But still no face and nothing in between.
If he was here
With his arm on my shoulder,
“Son, you’re a father… Cigar?”
Would I take his advice?
Heed his hackneyed banalities
Or follow his lead and disappear
Into thin air and freedom
Like his father before him?
I see my face mirrored in a curtained window,
My features forming accusation
Or exoneration.
Blame or no blame?
You inherited a dreadful imbalance
You have no moral compass
Your centre broke away, dissolved,
Will I muddle through
A sorry blind mans buff of married life
Stumbling, colliding, wounding,
Inflicting shambling hurts on wife and child
Until they hate me for what I became
Until only an empty mirrored frame remained
A hollow man with neither face nor heart.
The doors swish open
Another bed groans in
More cursing,
Tormented yodelling
More shouting.
I need a cig to clear my head.
Fresh air
A walk.
Time to think.

© coolhermit 2023
Views: 1985
critique and comments welcome.
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Again with the lack of comment for this artful fartful fillip of impending fatherhood. Keep it raw, keep it real and fully of swishy sybillance and ciggie-smoke. Mitch

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