AN OCTOGENARIAN’S PANDEMIC There’s been some sort of epidemic So say all-knowing academics, A kind of dread Chinese infection Designed to avoid early detection, Resulting in oxygen deprivation For which there was no known protection. The government and the NHS Said, what to do we can only guess But until we can make up our minds You must avoid contact of any kind, Wash your hands 10 times a day Put your going out clothes away, And for restrictions we’ll atone By paying you to stay at home. Said if lockdown we don’t apply Half a million would surely die, But something they didn’t say Was all of us would have to pay, All the costs of shutting down To the tune of 300 billion pound. I have to think they’ve lost their mind Paying ½ billion to save a life like mine. On the news the professor reported We’d all go mad before it was sorted, But when I had the time to reflect Saw on me it would have little effect. I was allowed to form a bubble With neighbour who said, it was no trouble To do a supermarket shop for me Of fresh food, bread, milk and tea, And I booked an on-line delivery Which hitherto had been a mystery. My hour long visits to numerous clinics Were now phone calls over in minutes, And no waiting in a doctors surgery With ill people sitting next to me, Covering me in their coughs and sneezes Spreading their as yet unknown diseases, And oh what joy when they disclosed All the dentists would be closed. No visits from that demanding relation Requiring clean sheets on each occasion. My expenditure had been decreased, From hugging I had been released, No longer was I considered rude When I indulged my love of solitude. I don’t spend weekends in hotels Or holiday in the Seychelles, I have nobody to look after I have no fear of the hereafter. I thought now I will have the time To watch programmes on Amazon Prime, Then there was Netflix and Catch-Up TV Opportunities spread out endlessly. The prospect of gardening reared its head Or I could do DIY instead. Then there were all those books to read Which would increase my reading speed, And when these became less exciting I could always try to do some writing. But as months ran into longer time I missed the freedom once was mine, I missed the human interaction Leading to increasing dissatisfaction. I wondered if this imposed ban Affected this old solitary man, Someone long past his prime Already living on borrowed time, How much harder would it have been If I had been just seventeen? And here I had to face the truth, We chose to sacrifice our youth, They lost out on jobs and education, On teenage fun and socialization. My few remaining years protected By youth, who even if they were infected, Would avoid serious complication And wouldn’t require hospitalisation, But who’d be paying back for many years The billions spent to keep our conscience clear. So we mortgaged millions of young lives To try and help the old survive. Was this right, we don’t know yet Or something the country will regret? Maybe result would have been the same If they’d just locked up the old and lame, And supplied any help they needed Until search for vaccine had succeeded. Having lived through rationing and the blitz. The old could surely have survived this? Each year 600000 deaths are seen From causes other than COVID 19, For every 1 that from COVID died Cancer and heart disease killed 5. Now on the news a man of 99 Is said to have died before his time!! What’s new is that now each day, Presented in graphical display, Death is there for all of us to see We’re confronted by our own mortality. Everyday more of the same Until we look for someone to blame For the extra deaths of an aged few, As if death was something new, When we have been able to ignore The millions who have died before. Only when that eulogy is read Over the special one we’ve loved who’s dead, Do we realise death is always with us Even if it’s something we don’t discuss. As mortals why do we believe From death we alone could be reprieved? Heart attack, cancer or suicide, Broken heart or homicide, Immortality is our minds biggest lie COVID ………just another way to die.
THE EFFORTS THAT WE EACH EMPLOY
The efforts that we each employ
To write a poem you can enjoy
Involves the need to use our brains,
To bring ideas and entrain
These into words without a strain.
Read the words and get the theme
The flow of what the poems mean
Discuss the views of friends about it
And, hopefully, they will record they like it
Enough to go on our ‘Retwords’ web page.
Recently Retwords has included adverts
Inserted after our work is displayed.
Not a problem I thought, at first,
It helps to fill the web page purse,
Then reading a couple of my own texts,
And the adverts with which they were matched…
‘Loo Cleaners’ in each of the cases,
I wonder if this is a subtle comment
On all the brain power in my lament
Has it all just gone, for a swim down the Trent!
Or is it just flushed with success.
AN ALTERNATIVE ENDING TO FRANKENSTEIN
By David R Graham
Archangel, Dec, 24th 1799,
To Mrs Seville, England,
I am alive and well, though I had planned it otherwise. Lest these words alarm you, let me speedily explain what has befallen me these last months.
Whilst stranded in the frozen wastes of the North, I entered into a compact with that spawn of the Devil that was the abominable creation of Doctor Frankenstein. May God forgive me, but in my lust for personal glory, I agreed to help manufacture a mate for the creature. Little did I suspect that the creature was playing me for a fool. It concocted its own death. Before my very eyes and those of my entire crew, it was consumed in the flames that were Doctor Frankenstein’s funeral pyre. Then it secretly boarded the ship and I concealed it in my quarters for the duration of the voyage back to Archangel.
Once here, I quickly purchased a suitable building on the harbour, and had it fitted out as a laboratory with all the apparatus and equipment that Doctor Frankenstein had recorded so meticulously in his journal. Then, we set about the gruesome task of acquiring the necessary body parts for the creature’s mate.
Such bloody work was of no consequence to the creature, but, oh God, dearest sister, for me! For me, it was a glimpse, nay, a stark descent into the very bowels of Hell! The places we entered into and the vile acts we committed whilst there, are almost beyond description! How many times was I awash in the gore of human flesh, before my senses could stand it no more!? My very soul cried out in agony and anguish at the terrible depth to which my lust for glory had dragged me.
And the creature knew! All the time we were engaged in our bloody work, it knew the extent of my suffering, and it laughed! It laughed a terrible laugh at what I had become! And in that moment it controlled me! It mastered me! I was powerless! It did not threaten me harm. It threatened, nay, vowed, to destroy all that I held dear in this world if it thought for one moment that I might try to free myself from our terrible compact.
Once the creature had all the body parts it needed, it shut us both up in the cellar and I was forced to assist it in assembling its mate.
When the work was complete, if such a thing might be called complete, it was a horrible adulteration of the human form! What a piece of work it was! It was not express and admirable in form! In apprehension, it was a ghoul! It was the paragon of abomination!
Again the creature laughed its terrible laugh when it beheld my horror and it told me than that it intended to assemble a cohort of such things and use them to wreck a terrible vengeance on the whole of humankind!
Oh, dearest sister, I knew that it meant every word! Just as I knew that it intended that I should continue to assist it in its terrible plan.
I resolved there and then dear sister, to do whatever I could to stop the creature, even if so doing should cost me my life. Indeed, I had already resolved to sacrifice my life in some small recompense for the diabolical wickedness into which I had at first so eagerly sought to participate. I had to find a way to destroy both myself and the creature. But I had no notion of how I might do so.
For days and nights, as we worked to prepare the doctor’s apparatus that would be used to activate and, God forbid, animate, the creature’s vile handiwork, I racked my stupefied brain to try to devise a means by which I might accomplish my final act of redemption.
But I could conceive of nothing! I was doomed! I realised then, as I worked to connect electrical conductors to the copper hustera that, once the vile thing it contained, lived, I would be of no further use to its creator. It was then, in that moment of stark realisation, that I cried out to my own Creator.
Oh, dearest sister in the world, He heard me! He heard my cry and He answered me! On my own I could not have accomplished all that I did!
In that moment, I was overcome by an all-consuming sense of wellbeing! My wretched state fell away from me and I heard a voice say, ‘And the serpent cast out of his mouth a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.’
Thinking that the creature might also have heard the voice, I turned, but it was engrossed in the doctor’s cursed journal, whilst it awaited the gathering storm.
It was then dear sister that I realised that the voice was a revelation! A revelation dear sister! The cellar in which we laboured was many feet below the banks of the Neva. I had to find a way to breach the walls and bring the weight of the river in upon us and all that we had engineered!
I then beseeched the creature that I might go to my toilet and eat some food and rest for a period that I might regain some strength. So engrossed was it in the near summation of its endeavours, that it let me go.
I worked quietly and quickly in near darkness dear sister and I discovered that the cellar was in fact a dry dock. The doors that held the Neva at bay were very large and seemingly impossible for one man to open alone. But on searching further, I discovered a mechanism that controlled the doors. The screw was large and cumbersome, but I grasped it with the strength and determination that only the very desperate of heart can employ. It turned!
The great doors made a noise like that of Satan ascending from Hell! But the doors opened!
Water rushed in!
Aided by the great press of water the screw turned ever faster!
Even above the roar of the water I heard the creature bellow when it realised what I was about!
I spun the screw once more, then leapt away and concealed myself in the darkness!
The creature bound up and grasped the screw and I thought for one fearful moment that it was going to succeed in shutting off the water! But even its inhuman strength was no match for the weight of the river, as it sought to engulf the cellar!
Bellowing its rage, the creature left the screw and I realised that it was bent on rescuing its creation!
I reached the hustera first! I spun the lid screw shut and haul with superhuman strength on the rope that operated the lifting tackle. How I did it I do not know! But I managed to tilt the hustera onto two of its feet until it teetered on the edge of its dais!
The creature was almost upon me! Its maw was agape with wrath! But the sound that came from its throat was drowned by the roar of the water as it rapidly filled the cellar!
I kicked out at the hustera! It toppled over the very edge of the dais!
The creature caught it! But it was unable to prevent it falling and it went down with it into the swirling water!
Such was the weight of the hustera that I was easily hauled up into the darkness!
Far below me, I heard the creature bellowing in fury! It was still alive!
It was then that it happened, dearest sister in the world!
A miracle of miracles!
A single bolt of lightning turned the very night to day! It struck the conducting rod that the creature had placed on the roof of the building and its great power was conducted, in the merest blink of an eye, down the conduit and into the cellar!
Not even that terrible creature could have survived that bolt of power from Heaven! All living and non-living flesh, in that water-filled charnel house, was consumed in an instant!
In another instant, the horror that had consumed my life for many months was at last at an end.
The water found its level and ceased to rise and its roaring was replaced by utter silence.
It was then dear sister that I heard the same voice say, ‘It is finished.’
Your most affectionate brother,