Glen Wilson lives with his wife Rhonda and two children in Portadown, Co Armagh. He works as a civil servant and is Worship Leader at St Mark’s Church of Ireland Portadown. He studied English and Politics at Queens University Belfast and has a Post Grad Diploma in Journalism studies from the University of Ulster. He was part of the Millennium Court Arts Centre Writers Group for over 5 years. He has been widely published having work in The Honest Ulsterman, The Stony Thursday Book, Foliate Oak, Iota, the Interpreters House, Southword, The Ogham Stone, The Luxembourg Review, RAUM and The Incubator Journal amongst others. In 2014 he won the Poetry Space competition and was shortlisted for the Wasafiri New Writing Prize. In 2015 he was shortlisted for the The Universal Human Rights Student Network (UHRSN) poetry award for his poem Show and Tell. He was shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Award for New Writing 2016 and The 2016 Wells Festival of Literature. He won the Seamus Heaney Award for New Writing 2017 for his poem The Lotus Gait. He is currently working towards his first collection of poetry. Twitter @glenhswilson [email protected]
Reasons for Admission 1889
You will find yourself stretched here,
we deal with all kinds, a cornucopia of humanity.
This first ward on your left houses some of our less
troublesome patients, Dissolute Habits,
Feebleness of Intellect, Business Nerves.
Indeed John here used to quite a successful banker,
No John he hasn’t come to see you,
Harmless really though wouldn’t go to him for a loan eh!
These ladies are all in for time of Life, menstrual
deranged, the usual Hysteria and ‘Women Trouble.’
Here are a few of our more recent cases, that one
there fell from a horse in a war, very close to a medal I’m told.
Ah these chaps came to us because of acute political excitement,
You must remember they seem normal but underneath…
Well that’s a different matter, don’t be taken in.
No I think you’ll find its God Bless the Queen
I wish we could ship them back to Ireland,
Anyway , Oh I would keep a bit more distance
from this next lot, Excessive Sexual abuse
and Deranged Masturbation. Yes you learn
to block the sounds out, just don’t enter the cells
alone, we can ill afford another replacement.
What was your last post? Oh…well I see,
You’ll get used to this, I’ll show you to your quarters.
A Composition in Progress
I am the voice that stands at the door
and tries to sing,
I have no other option left to me.
I pushed and kicked at night when you slept,
hoping that these formative words would jab,
or at least make you shift sides.
You’ve lost the taste for tea,
the warm china you insisted on,
cradled in your hands that helped the blood
and thoughts flow. It’s too far gone now
for such gentle measures. Once I became
more than a twinkle in the eye
you could not throw the world in reverse
I know I was a song you never planned
but still when you sing with others,
harmonies get mixed,
keys get changed at night.
And night is where I’m the refrain
that hopes you won’t crumple me,
all smeared with the tired red lines
of failed rescue, struggling to keep a beat.
Marmalade for John
He comes in and sits down at the same seat,
the one with the plump chintz cushion.
His wife hands him his newspaper and
places down a molten cup of black coffee
on a trembling saucer.
He reaches for the jar of homemade
marmalade, his eyes linger over the
sell by date, written by her once florid hand.
He checks it every day.
He quickly unscrews the lid and places it
beside his plate, picks up his knife
and plunges into the viscous matter.
He watches the jelly blob slowly
slide down the knife and with one deft
manoeuvre spreads it over the toast.
Undulating mountains of shredded Seville oranges
cover the slice, reaching the neat corners
until a tangerine tangent hangs
precariously above the table,
before it can fall he takes a bite,
“Hmmm delectable preserve dear”
She nods, takes her seat at the opposite end of the table,
glad as he opens his newspaper.
It should really be about him
not you, you who drove on.
What went on in your head in that moment?
It was a dog, a cat, a dream.
In your driveway you listen to the engine idle,
thinking it didn’t happen as long as you stay inside the car.
Hoping for rain to wash away the tracks,
to clean your skid marked conscience;
the dent in the bumper
the metal of the undercarriage so twisted
you can taste it in your mouth.,
everything flavoured with your decision.
You switch off the engine and step out,
a different person than you were half an hour before.
Even in the dark you can see the blood,
malevolent and thick on the metallic paintwork.
In the yellow light of the garage you begin the rewriting,
the sponge holds the water until you squeeze it,
kneel down and start to clean the blood away
washing away the chance of penance, redemption.
You watch your drinks now in case you have too much
say enough for people to ask questions,
like the mechanic four towns over
who replaced the damaged parts, resprayed
the bodywork, like the ex-girlfriend who asked
why you said ‘It won’t come off, it won’t come off’
one night in your sleep, lying and saying it was all a bad dream
about a sheet suffocating you, in the lie a truth.
You live the counterfeit life he would have,
lovers he would never kiss yet lovers
you could never fully trust or know.
His family counts the candles his breath would never blow out
while every flame for you was a taunting undying flame,
ghosting the edges black.
You have become so adept at avoiding questions
for you know the answers, given voice to them
internally until they sound like a stranger,
repeating on a never waning loop
Where you over the limit? Did you swerve?
Did you brake? Did you brake?