my brother’s
pancreatic tumour
started to bleed
and that friend
i told you about
had a blood pressure of
seventy over twenty

holy shit
i say
even though
i am really tired
and had a shitty shift
and really just want
to go to bed

holy shit

and i think of the musicians
and the actors
and the models
and the influencers
talking about corona as if we are all gonna live like this forever
and their lives are over
because they thrive in the spotlights
and people don’t need them
when they are too busy
just surviving
and then i look at my workmate
and there is no spotlight
but despite the pancreatic cancer
and despite the deadly blood pressure
she is getting ready for a nightshift
at the care home
and i wonder
where her spotlight is
where the cameras are
and where the fans
are hiding

Pissing Blood

she pisses blood

i don’t feel so well
she said
her face is grey
her hair so greasy
as her eyes
turn inward
looking at what once was

where’s my husband

he died

she pisses blood

he died?


i try to clean her up
but there’s a lot
and she can’t lay still
or won’t
i haven’t decided yet

you are butchering me
she says
sweat on my brow
trying to keep
her insides inside

i’m sorry
i say

and all she says is
she pisses blood


zus died yesterday
we say in her sleep
but the truth is
her lungs started
filling with fluid
and she needed
and phone calls
with doctors
because life
is sometimes
messy that way

zus was almost
a century old
with very little hair
left on her head
but a lot of joy
in her eyes and
a certain clarity
of mind

the last time
i saw here
i bumped
a wheelchair
against her table
it made her

zus means
sister in dutch
which she still was
but her last remaining
sibling lost
her mind
a long time ago
which means
zus will live on
as long as she does
and we will
stop reminding her

zus told us stories
about the traveling
she had done
in her time
the americas
and asia
and a lot of europe

it’s funny how
we think it’s ours
until we run out of it

we stand in her
little room
relics of the people
she lost are everywhere
there is a picture
of a black and white couple
in a rowing boat
on her wall
a younger version
of her and
what i assume
was her husband

there are souvenirs
from her travels
smiling faces
of the children
that came after her

zus lays
in bed
her nails
painted red
and a fake blush
gracing her wrinkly
little face

i can’t believe
how alive she looks
i say
god they were

we look at her
in her best top
and i realise
my mind
never really
accepts the bodies
they leave behind

i see their
chests rise
long after
their hearts
have stopped

shame we can’t open
her window
my workmate says
she would have loved
to hear the spring birds