Two poems by Roy Marshall


My fingers walked
to the fourth intercostal space.
This is where I placed
the first gel-backed tab.
The next went

opposite, across the sternum, on the nipple line.
Easy then to make
a descending arc, attach the leads
until a trace appeared;
the heart. Unlike in films

when it stopped for good
the line was never completely flat,
but wavering like the slap of water
against the dock
long after a boat has passed.

(first published in Butchers Dog, Issue 7)

Sterile field

Unpacking latex gloves, saline, cotton wool,
I can’t help but ask about the swastika tattoo
inked crudely between thumb and wrist.

‘When you’ re young, you’re stupid’
is all he offers.

I rip a hole in a paper sheet, pass his penis through,
fill the tract from a syringe until its eye leaks lube,
affix the catheter, consider how old ink

might be eclipsed by new; maybe
a Sanskrit mandala, yin and yang motif
or naïve swallow in absolvent blue.

(first published in The Great Animator, Shoestring Press 2017)

Roy Marshall lives in Leicestershire and works in adult education.
His first collection The Sun Bathers (2013) was shortlisted for the Michael Murphy award.
A second collection The Great Animator (Shoestring Press, 2017) contains a sequence of poems
related to Roy’s previous career as a coronary care nurse. Twitter @RoyMarshall2