Nightly Revisions

At the end of the day, as I lie in my bed,

Three million thoughts collide in my head.

They argue and clash, contradicting each other,

I feel like a stranger in the mind of another.

Because such disharmony has never been ‘me’

I’m passionately naïve, light-hearted, carefree

I toss crumbs to birds, build snowmen outside,

Lie on the lawn and count clouds in the sky

But now I’m on fire — or, at least, in my head

I burn with regret for things left unsaid

I play my mistakes like a tape on repeat

I prey on my flaws; they’re pathetic and weak

There’s no room for error in my judgemental eye

Only perfection’s accepted — when I slip, people die

You see, my job doesn’t deal with bank loans or jewels,

Policies on paper or mechanical tools,

I am a doctor; I care for the sick

Try to ease suffering, make their recoveries quick

I cram my brain full of studies and charts

Schematics of lungs, brains, livers, and hearts

All for the chance that one day it means

Life over death for someone between

But sometimes I can’t help, or make poor decisions,

And it’s those thoughts that weigh in my nightly revisions

Not just about facts and knowledge and such

But about communication and caring, speech and touch,

I’ve had three million rules drilled into my head

Of words not to use, and what to say instead,

How to act, how to speak, how to think, how to breathe

And the best ways to put a frightened person at ease

Of course all of these are vital lessons to learn

A patient’s trust is something that has to be earned

But with all this practice of what to say, do, and be

Somewhere in its midst I’ve forgotten how to be me

It’s so artificial, this actress, this clone,

I follow commands like an sci-fi drone

I no longer build snowmen, and toss crumbs to birds

When I look at the clouds, it just feels absurd

Like a huge waste of time that I should be spending

Focusing on the sick on their road back to mending

There’s no time for rainbows or butterflies or fun

No point in it, too, not when there’s work to be done

They say I will ‘burn out’, but that seems naïve

When there’s so much to learn, do, say, know, be!

…and a coffin’s a heavy thing to rest on your heart

When somebody dies though you did more than your part

Yes, sometimes it’s inevitable, but that’s hard to accept,

And, as I lie there at nights, I see the dead coming back

They come in my dreams, and sit on my bed

As shame and regret parade through my head

Maybe one day I’ll fight them away, but for now,

I just let them be, for I do not know how

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Brave

It never ceases to amaze me: the courage of Hobbits.

’twas dark far too early, a midwinter’s night,

when I roamed down the sidewalk, my coat wrapped tight,

The sun had departed, but the moon ran behind

And, without either light, I walked around blind

Perhaps that made me conscious of the sounds of the night

Every creak, every rustle that would normally cause fright

But tonight things were calmer — a dry breeze in the air

Was the only sound lingering. Other than that, nothing there.

Or at least so I thought, until the murmur of words

Broke through the air, leaving the silence disturbed

I concentrated harder to determine the source

Of this lackluster humanoid air-driven force

And just by the lamplight, in the dim yellow light,

I spotted pure courage, in the midst of a fight:

Two lads and a lady, in full suit attire

Were discussing their…interviews(?) and what had transpired

I stepped a bit closer, for I was curious to hear

What strange undertakings had burdened those here

Why they dawdled without fear underneath the pale lamp’s light

And why they wandered courageously through a midwinter’s night

They spoke of far-off places, where I’d never been

A thousand distant cities of which I’d only dreamed

And in this idle manner they made lists in the snow

Pointing to the places they still had to go

And the hours which they spoke of keeping seemed inhumane to me

Was there no place better for these wanderers to be?

Yet there they stood, immaculate, immune to snow and cold,

Discussing conversation politics with fervent voices, bold

Discussing with finesse the minutiae unknown

About training to be a doctor, that no layperson knows

It was not too long after that I saw them moving on

Picking up their burdens and trudging bravely on

Onto new adventures in cities far away

Hoping one would pick them — one day soon, one day

Hoping to be selected for the noblest task of all

To care for others in deepest need, they’d found, in life, their call

And so they wandered through the midst of winter cold and ice

From place to place they fled and flew, a blur of day and nights

And that was when I realised that I’d seen no strength like it before

A final-year med student in the midst of their CaRMS tour

This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

A hundred million rows of men

Descend upon my mind again

Their arrows fly, blades held aloft

Yet the touch is strange, gentle and soft

I guess a knife’s a welcome change

From the anguish I feel, day after day

For dreams reflect our real-life woes

And my dreams prove the distance I’ve to go

To find forgiveness in my heart

For the things I’ve felt rip it apart

That’s why I see these nightmare men

Who represent the things I’ve said

Which haunt me in the worst of times

Ripping through memories in my mind

But how can I escape them, though?

If only I knew how to let things go

All the Way Up

I remember those days ,when I stood where you are

And wondered how people could travel so far

They could climb to the top, to the peak of their game,

And bask in the riches of glory and fame

But now you stand there, and I’m…somewhere else

Yet you place me in spotlights, set me high on a shelf

An icon to be worshipped, but I’m not sure what’s changed

Stripped down to the basics, I’m still just the same

Yet you look at me, with rose-coloured eyes

And study my life’s journey like it’s the key to the skies

But I’ve made so many missteps — don’t follow me at all!

I may be high up now, but I’m just about to fall

Carve your own path to the sky; don’t follow what I did

If you pay heed to your heart, you’re gonna go far, kid

Black Magic

A black devil waltzes through Christmas décor

Bringing his filth to those he abhors

Turning off lights as bulbs flicker out

Relishing as partygoers shriek and shout

Despair is his mantra, all that he knows

He brings destruction wherever he goes

Lost love and relationships, memories that fade

Foul words and gestures, which start to abrade

Against nerves, against hearts, against minds slightly warped

His is a plot which none can thwart

And while some may frolic beneath Yuletide cheer

The Christmas Devil lurks, spreading hate and fear

angry old man

an angry old man looked death in the face

and demanded the business he had in that place

death didn’t answer (he never really does)

but the old man didn’t care — his head was abuzz

and his heart was aflame with an old man’s desire

to place his mark on the world before he expires

and that’s why the wizened old man (the fool)

used his last ounce of strength to break every rule

the first man in history with the courage to dare

to spit in death’s face, as death stood right there!

of course it was in vain; death had only to frown

to regain his composure and smite the man down

but as the man died, a smile graced his face

as his spirit broke loose and escaped from that place

death folded his scythe and slipped quietly away

his job here was done, just the work of a day

All of the Stars

And in darkness I stand, looking up in the sky,

Thousands of twinkling, diamond-set eyes

They’re watching me idly, like they always do

Cut-outs cut out of a velveteen blue

But today is different, in a way they don’t know

The stars never change, but each day I grow

And once I was bitter, so caught up in rage,

That I blamed the whole world in a giant tirade

I thought I was too big for its pain and its lies

A soap opera watched by those twinkling eyes!

But then something happened inside me, one day

(though those twinkling eyes still looked the same)

And I learnt that nothing in the world is so plain

As all good or all bad, all love or all pain

You have to lose some to win some, fall down to rise,

You have to tilt your head back to look up at the sky!

And that’s how I learnt the most important lesson of all:

To put things behind you, you have to stand tall

If I didn’t touch it, then it wouldn’t bite

So let go of anger, and seek the path to the light

It’s amazing how one step can push you so far

When you’re dancing in the moonlight, under all of the stars

Demoness

In dark nightmares

She comes alive

A demoness

I once defied

She haunts me still

Tempts me with sin

But she is a fool

I won’t let her win

She might light fires

With matches of lies

Catching all sinners

By surprise

But she won’t catch me

For I don’t care

Take a look in my heart

You won’t find her there

Burn

A.N. Dedicated to the victims of the California wildfires.

A thousand tonnes of ash descend

Upon us in a curse hell-sent

What wrong we did, none can be sure

The weeks, months past are but a blur

All we can see is ash and smoke

It coats our lungs, and makes us choke

The air is thick; each breath is dear,

Smoldered in grief, anguish, and fear

An empty hand is all we have

They say muster hope, but I’m not sure we can

The flames have devoured every last dream

The parks where we played, the schools and the streets,

The trees which we climbed, and the fields where we roamed,

And that small pile of ashes I called my home

Everything is gone, and nothing remains

Yet we struggle to move forward, at the end of each day

The sky is aflame with burnt-out dreams

The patchwork of lifetimes, undone at the seams

Puffball Lewis, or How to Trick-or-Treat

A.N. Falls off towards the end, sorry.

’twas a crisp autumn eve when the demons arrived

Defiling the air as they rushed to their prize

Releasing their stench while the good folks around

Cowered and trembled as they fell to the ground

But, to their cemetery spot, the demons all sped

Where they feasted on corpses of flesh freshly-dead

What a horrible sight it was to behold!

The corpses unearthed, both young and old

But who would stop them? Would a hero arise?

Would he come a-flying through the dark, foggy skies?

Or would he jump in, leaping straight off a roof,

Vanquishing the demons in a moment of truth?

Of all the scenarios, the hero least likely

Was the one who emerged, righteous and mighty

He was a small ball of fluff, a tiny, cute thing,

Screaming his outrage while flapping his wings

Bright beady eyes condemned those who dared

Interfere with his peace, catch his people unawares

Though his wee chirps were tiny, his messages were strong,

And, one by one, the other people joined along

The foul demons froze, dropped their deplorable deeds,

And, overwhelmed by this courage, began their retreat

The people moved to followed, bearing rakes and knives,

Ready to draw blood, to bring justice alive

But the Puffball only chirped, though now to bring calm,

For there are other ways than violence to right these types of wrongs

And the people dropped their weapons, for they saw the demons’ fear,

Beings whose hunger drove them to feast but once per year

That’s when the Puffball Lewis brought his best idea to light

He gave a bowl of candies to these demons of the night

And helped them to discover a brand-new type of treat

The first trick-or-treaters, from this generous Halloween feat