Posted in Unexpected


A familiar ritual
four times per year
personal : sexual history, sexual orientation, sexual habits
and “ ever injected drugs or shared a needle?”

The nurse professionally cheerful
runs a marker pen down the line of enquiries
checking each has been checked.
Anything not covered that should be disclosed? “No.”
This won’t hurt …. a small stab of the finger
blood spurts onto a slide – calibration.
“ Come through.”
A pressure cuff is fitted above the elbow. A needle inserted.

A large needle
with which tension has never not been
blood flows into rocking bag. Donation.
In this country no payment
only civic satisfaction
and coffee and chocolate afterwards.

By shuffle and deal of haematology
I am O- CMV –
exactly ideal for paediatrics
used in neonatal units for fragile newborns.
450 ml of platelets, plasma and oxygen
screened into six ready for combat packs
four times per annum times six
multiplied by 17 years… a lot of babies
life supports life and perhaps saves life.

Two women sit across the table
speaking lines of which they do not seem the authors.
We are a national organization one says
tone equating a distribution agency to the central bank
All the attributes in the job description are present
they would like to know something of the person.
Did I have children? “No.” Empathy closes ranks
intuition senses the evacuation of opportunity.

Two swap looks
a double rewinding of the past
memories of child rearing budget years.
I am thanked for attendance. Contact is promised.
The job is filled by a woman
perhaps her child has had my blood.



Most of my life has been spent on the bench, occasionally called into the game by extravagance or attenuation. Waiting has turned a loner into a recorder - nondescript and inconsequential, more not noticed than overlooked - the non-vantage point of children not yet considered old enough to understand. Orphaned Islands (Un)poetry is a lifetime of picking anecdotes up and not throwing them away. Stories collected like odds and ends placed in a box in the basement, the garage, the garden shed - uncertain as to what their use might be but knowing that one day there might be one.