Z is for Zoetic

Image source: wallpaperflare.com

An attempt to produce a poem or story from now until the end of April (except Sundays).
The theme for the 2022 A to Z Challenge is the human condition.


I have a photograph I carry around in my purse. The one of my dad on his fiftieth birthday. Mum and I clubbed together to buy him a hot-air balloon ride. In the picture, he is grinning like a kid on Christmas Day. You can see his excitement as he hangs over the side of the basket. His hands are a blur, but his eyes sparkle with two-dimensional joy. The face staring at me now is nothing but a ghost of that man.

“Look, he’s smiling at you!” Nurse Tina announces when she spots me standing in the doorway. She means well, but does she honestly believe that this dribbling wreck is capable of recognising his daughter?

Right from the start, even when my father still had some of his marbles left, her fluffy bunny act grated on the pair of us. She never realised she was dealing with a pair of heartless cynics. Neither of us wept at my mother’s funeral, bereft though we were. The fact my little brother hasn’t spoken to any of us since he left home twenty years ago, we take on the chin. No time for sentimentality; we liked our lives to be real. Nurse Tina, with her uplifting quotes and soft manner, was anathema to my father. So was being treated like a baby.

“Would you like to feed Dad?” she said on that first day, a beaming smile on her face.

“No,” I shrieked, ready to run from the room. My father’s eyes implored me not to assist. He managed a shake of the head. Nurse Tina probably thought it was just a muscle spasm. She pushed a dish of something gooey and pale at me. Invalid food, for my father, the invalid. Once a man of action, dreams and laughter, now reduced to a twisted jumble of limbs. Sitting on his bed, holding his hand and reading the latest Stephen King, no problem, but spooning gloop into his mouth, no way.

“Leave him some dignity,” I said without thinking. “He’s my dad, not my baby son.”

“Lunch will be over in half an hour.” Nurse Tina’s smile faded at my callousness. “Come back then.”

She dismissed me with a curt nod, and I wandered off to the garden, where I smoked a cigarette and resolved to avoid visiting at mealtimes. I would hold Dad’s sippy cup and pop peeled grapes into his mouth, but nothing more personal. We weren’t that kind of family. After a few weeks, he regained some control of his right hand. Now I could help. With Barney propped up next to Dad, all I had to do was cut the food and hand over the fork while Dad fed himself and his grandson with aeroplane and train noises.

Nurse Tina approved. “It gets easier, doesn’t it?” she would say and pat my shoulder. And I would smile back while stealthily wriggling out of her grasp. She was too used to touchy-feely families; bless her! When she told Dad about the room next door and how the wife would feed and toilet her ailing husband. Dad rolled his eyes and mumbled he would rather die.

“You are dying!” I said.

“Behave, or I’ll use your inheritance to pay for a trip to Dignitas.”

“You can’t: I’ve got power of attorney,” I reminded him. “And large fluffy cushions.”

“Do you hear that, Nurse? My daughter’s planning to kill me,” Dad slurred between snorts of laughter. “Don’t you dare try to stop her.”

Tina smiled in the way of one who will never get the joke, but hopes it is one.

Before I left that day, I told her Dad had a dark sense of humour and enjoyed shocking people. Not a total lie, but Nurse Tina relaxed. Although she has never been completely happy around me.

Today, she is wearing her compassionate face because my father is unlikely to last the night. His life force, the vitality that made him my dad, is ebbing away. Even I can see it.

I take my customary seat and clasp my father’s hand in mine. When Nurse Tina squeezes my shoulder, this time I don’t shrug her off, but I reach up and entwine my fingers with hers.

T is for Therapy

Image source: whyy.org

An attempt to produce a poem or story from now until the end of April (except Sundays).
The theme for the 2022 A to Z Challenge is the human condition.


Eighteen years of my life are gone, just like that.

How could you do this to me?

I was always there for you. Through the tax evasion, the bank robbery, and even the murder, I stood by you and defended you from your critics.

People said you were no good for me, and I should stop seeing you, but I couldn’t. You fascinated and beguiled me, and I loved you with all my heart.

Now, you’re gone, and I am bereft. But not alone. There must be other people experiencing this same pain. Maybe, I can find an online support group…

WDYS: The Key to Her Heart

Image credit: Photomix company @ Pixabay

He comes for his things
But pauses at the door
Forced to ring the bell

My key doesn’t work, he says
I changed the lock, she replies

He gives her a boyish grin
How about a cup of tea?
All right, she says

They sit in the kitchen
He reaches for her hand

I’m sorry I hurt you
Can we try again?
Let me make amends

She sighs, and hope dies
Can I have a biscuit, then?

The tin is slid towards him
They’re all broken, he scowls
She raises her head and smiles

Written in response to Sadje‘s What Do You See #108 photo prompt.

Song Lyric Sunday: Up the Junction

The themes for Song Lyric Sunday from Jim Adams are Birth, Death or Life.
The song must contain a reference to the prompt in the title or the lyrics.
If the song does not meet these criteria, please explain why you chose it.


Up the Junction by the British band Squeeze, charts the life of a relationship from birth to death. The song was inspired by a 1965 TV play of the same name, which in turn was adapted from a collection of short stories by Nell Dunn.

The phrase up the junction is polite British slang for being up a certain creek without a paddle. Which is the conclusion of the song’s narrator when his drinking breaks up his family, and he’s too proud (stubborn!) to beg for forgiveness.

Fans of EastEnders will notice Michelle Collins wandering around in the video’s background and, yes, that is a young Jools Holland on keyboard.

Are you ready for a bit of musical kitchen-sink drama with some crazy half-rhymes…?

I never thought it would happen
With me and the girl from Clapham
Out on the windy common
That night I ain’t forgotten
When she dealt out the rations
With some or other passions
I said, “You are a lady”
“Perhaps,” she said, “I may be”

We moved into a basement
With thoughts of our engagement
We stayed in by the telly
Although the room was smelly
We spent our time just kissing
The Railway Arms we’re missing
But love had got us hooked up
And all our time it took up

I got a job with Stanley
He said I’d come in handy
And started me on Monday
So I had a bath on Sunday
I worked eleven hours
And bought the girl some flowers
She said she’d seen a doctor
And nothing now could stop her

I worked all through the winter
The weather brass and bitter
I put away a tenner
Each week to make her better
And when the time was ready
We had to sell the telly
Late evenings by the fire
With little kicks inside her

This morning at four-fifty
I took her rather nifty
Down to an incubator
Where thirty minutes later
She gave birth to a daughter
Within a year a walker
She looked just like her mother
If there could be another

And now she’s two years older
Her mother’s with a soldier
She left me when my drinking
Became a proper stinging
The devil came and took me
From bar to street to bookie
No more nights by the telly
No more nights nappies smelling

Alone here in the kitchen
I feel there’s something missing
I’d beg for some forgiveness
But begging’s not my business
And she won’t write a letter
Although I always tell her
And so it’s my assumption
I’m really up the junction

Songwriter(s): Chris Difford & Glenn Tilbrook
© 1979 A&M Records Ltd, Universal Music Publishing Group

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: What If…

LindaGHill hosts Stream of Consciousness Saturday.
The prompt is IF. Start your post with the word IF. Enjoy!
Click HERE for the rest of the rules, and to play along.


If I love you and if you love me
Think how happy we could be!

But…

If I become who you want me to be
And you become who I want you to be.
Where will we be?

However…

If I am who I want to be
And you are who you want to be.
Shall we see what we can be?