He smoked too much,
Even with the hole in his throat, he’d suck down a holiday extra light
Mouth shut tight and the amber glow crackles
And a curlicue of smoke would tunnel down into his rotting lungs.
A tight fitting polyester blue dress bustles past, with a loaded death trolley
The relatives all milling around spot the biscuits and tea being wheeled their way
But the trolley goes past them, Clive’s not ready to die yet.
A group of hungry relatives at the end of the room have received the death trolley
Their loved one, still and grey, breathes with a spidery rattle
The Arnotts Crème Selection,
Always appropriate for the last few hours here.
The next day, along with the biscuits the patient at the end of the room has gone
Clive lies by the sunny veranda, waiting for a passing nurse
To wheel him out for a smoke
When you’re at the end of your run they give you little pleasures like this.
Soon enough the ever efficient nurse, wheels him out
With her ‘keep it between us smile’
Polyester Dawn fluffs the pillow and jams it behind his eggshell head
Still smiling like a trooper she slips him a smoke.
He sits propped up in the warm afternoon sunlight, and he sparks up
He’s been shown the shadow on the x-ray, but it doesn’t really faze him, not now
The harsh tobacco fills up his old man’s lungs, his senses tingle
His chest tightens up, and he heaves and racks with the wonderful nicotine bite
On the last leg of the smoke, his teeth clenche, eyes shut tight
And as a small clot of blood hammers in his brain,
Clive drops his last cigarette on the blue and white, hospital issue blanket
It smoulders quietly away.