stdClass Object
(
    [ID] => 17909
    [post_author] => 5
    [post_date] => 2017-03-29 19:19:35
    [post_date_gmt] => 2017-03-29 19:19:35
    [post_content] => The phones are on the basement landing near the lifts
and wearing hoods like hairdryers. They feed on cash

but are essential. They sleep on hooks like babies put to rest
face down. They all trail cords twisted as messages.

Among evidence of crisps and gum, the phones are dreaming
grubby dreams graffitied on the dimpled walls.

They hang their heads as if they’re culpable. Some phones are dead,
some have bad breath or smell of piss. This is a hospital.

*  *

The phones are in the shopping-centre/atrium cum café
and wearing cowls like hunched monks praying.

They feed on cash but are essential. Receivers hang
like silent foetuses and all trail cords, twisted, for messages.

Among scratched numbers, cards for taxis, and torn wrappers,
phones are dreaming grubby dreams. Beds glide by like barges

with soft cargoes. Some phones are dead,
some have bad breath or smell of piss. This is a hospital.

*  *  *

The phones are on the basement landing near the lifts
hooded, like anybody cares what anybody says.

Through dirty teeth they feed on cash. Receivers hang like unripe fruit,
and trail from vines like treble clefs. My call’s essential.

Of the phones, half are working. Some gag on coins like foie gras geese.
People wearing coats, or dressing-gowns and bandages, are waiting.

Biro, grubby finger-marks and scuffs, patinate the stippled walls.
There’s fluff like tumbleweed. This is a hospital.

*  *  *  *

The phones are in the shopping-centre/atrium cum café
and wearing hoods like ram-raiders. They feed on cash.

Pale handsets trail from vines like ripening peaches.
Silent drips, pumps, shunts and beds glide-by like wherries.

Among evidence of crisps and gum, the vulnerable are wearing
pyjamas and/or coats or dressing-gowns in their delirium.

Incapable, clients hang their heads like hopeless phones.
Some have bad breath or smell of piss. This is a hospital.

*  *  *  *  *

Change is essential. The hoods of phones are lined
along the walls of ill-lit corridors, like inversions of urinals.

Handsets turn their backs and hunch, dangling like limp kittens.
Beds glide-by like gondolas or rafts, while walking wounded

cling to masts with drips for pennants. Above floor tiles puddled colourless
with overuse and slippers, the phones slump senseless.

Incapable, they hang their heads like apologetic doctors.
Some are dead. What can I say? This is a hospital.
    [post_title] => What Can I Say?
    [post_excerpt] => 
    [post_status] => publish
    [comment_status] => closed
    [ping_status] => closed
    [post_password] => 
    [post_name] => what-can-i-say
    [to_ping] => 
    [pinged] => 
    [post_modified] => 2017-06-12 11:38:38
    [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-06-12 11:38:38
    [post_content_filtered] => 
    [post_parent] => 0
    [guid] => http://poems.poetrysociety.org.uk/?post_type=poems&p=17909
    [menu_order] => 0
    [post_type] => poems
    [post_mime_type] => 
    [comment_count] => 0
    [filter] => raw
    [meta_data] => stdClass Object
        (
            [wpcf-published-in] => 
            [wpcf-date-published] => 2016
            [wpcf-summary-description] => 'What Can I Say?' was commended in the 2016 National Poetry Competition. 

From the judges: "Can poetry give delight at the same that it depicts that which is bleak and grim? ‘What Can I Say?’ proves that it can, offering a poem that drives home the distressing aspects of a hospital through language to relish. Ingeniously, surreally, hospital pay-phones take on various identities of babies, for instance: “They sleep on hooks like babies put to rest / face down”, or of monks: “wearing cowls like hunched monks praying”. The poem’s rhythmic patterning reflects the claustrophobia of an enclosed, threatening world. In its inventiveness the poem captures exactly what may frighten or repel us in this environment: “Some phones are dead, some have bad breath or smell of piss”. This is a hospital.” It’s uncompromising, while it savours its own honesty, demanding to be read aloud, as well as to be encountered on the page. It was refreshing to find such a poem as one of the Competition entries." - Jack Underwood [wpcf-rights-information] => [wpcf-poem-award] => Commended, National Poetry Competition 2016 [wpcf_pr_belongs] => ) [poet_data] => stdClass Object ( [ID] => 17890 [forename] => [surname] => [title] => Peter Wallis [slug] => peter-wallis [content] => Peter Wallis is three times winner of the Thetford Open Poetry Competition, winner of the Living With Dementia Poetry Competition 2013, and of the Barnet Poetry Competition 2015. He also won publication of his pamphlet, Articles of Twinship, in the Bare Fiction Debut Poetry Collection Competition 2015. A couple of unusual prizes have included the opportunity to read a winning poem on Radio 4’s Poetry Please (in the Gardeners’ World poetry competition) and the Richard Boswell Bowl, awarded by the National Poetry Foundation. He has had poems published in Germany and New Zealand, and is Submissions Editor for the U.K. charity Poems in the Waiting Room. ) )
stdClass Object
(
    [ID] => 17890
    [forename] => 
    [surname] => 
    [title] => Peter Wallis
    [slug] => peter-wallis
    [content] => Peter Wallis is three times winner of the Thetford Open Poetry Competition, winner of the Living With Dementia Poetry Competition 2013, and of the Barnet Poetry Competition 2015. He also won publication of his pamphlet, Articles of Twinship, in the Bare Fiction Debut Poetry Collection Competition 2015. A couple of unusual prizes have included the opportunity to read a winning poem on Radio 4’s Poetry Please (in the Gardeners’ World poetry competition) and the Richard Boswell Bowl, awarded by the National Poetry Foundation. He has had poems published in Germany and New Zealand, and is Submissions Editor for the U.K. charity Poems in the Waiting Room.
)

What Can I Say?

Peter Wallis

The phones are on the basement landing near the lifts
and wearing hoods like hairdryers. They feed on cash

but are essential. They sleep on hooks like babies put to rest
face down. They all trail cords twisted as messages.

Among evidence of crisps and gum, the phones are dreaming
grubby dreams graffitied on the dimpled walls.

They hang their heads as if they’re culpable. Some phones are dead,
some have bad breath or smell of piss. This is a hospital.

*  *

The phones are in the shopping-centre/atrium cum café
and wearing cowls like hunched monks praying.

They feed on cash but are essential. Receivers hang
like silent foetuses and all trail cords, twisted, for messages.

Among scratched numbers, cards for taxis, and torn wrappers,
phones are dreaming grubby dreams. Beds glide by like barges

with soft cargoes. Some phones are dead,
some have bad breath or smell of piss. This is a hospital.

*  *  *

The phones are on the basement landing near the lifts
hooded, like anybody cares what anybody says.

Through dirty teeth they feed on cash. Receivers hang like unripe fruit,
and trail from vines like treble clefs. My call’s essential.

Of the phones, half are working. Some gag on coins like foie gras geese.
People wearing coats, or dressing-gowns and bandages, are waiting.

Biro, grubby finger-marks and scuffs, patinate the stippled walls.
There’s fluff like tumbleweed. This is a hospital.

*  *  *  *

The phones are in the shopping-centre/atrium cum café
and wearing hoods like ram-raiders. They feed on cash.

Pale handsets trail from vines like ripening peaches.
Silent drips, pumps, shunts and beds glide-by like wherries.

Among evidence of crisps and gum, the vulnerable are wearing
pyjamas and/or coats or dressing-gowns in their delirium.

Incapable, clients hang their heads like hopeless phones.
Some have bad breath or smell of piss. This is a hospital.

*  *  *  *  *

Change is essential. The hoods of phones are lined
along the walls of ill-lit corridors, like inversions of urinals.

Handsets turn their backs and hunch, dangling like limp kittens.
Beds glide-by like gondolas or rafts, while walking wounded

cling to masts with drips for pennants. Above floor tiles puddled colourless
with overuse and slippers, the phones slump senseless.

Incapable, they hang their heads like apologetic doctors.
Some are dead. What can I say? This is a hospital.