The Men in Suits always come to visit us when they need to be popular:
the wrinkled old man, me with the tube up my nose. They promise
to sand down the floors, to carry the nurses’ bags,
but they’re not the ones who keep away the grime, who keep away the hunger.
The Men in Suits don’t have the time, so instead,
we rely on our soldiers in white coats and blue scrubs.
The Men with black shoes always visit us when they need to be popular.
They always visit me when my bags are heaviest,
when my bones are achiest,
after I’ve just finished washing my hands.
We wouldn’t want to get other people’s muck
on their spic-and-span shoes, would we?
The Man in a blue tie ignores me, as he walks across the polished floors.
He takes notice of the naked yellow sunshine,
the cracks in the walls
and wrinkles of our exhausted soldiers,
of our buildings stacked on top of one another,
like a game of Tetris gone wrong.
If we don’t get enough ticks, it might
be game over for all of us.
The Man with studded cufflinks points to the running junior doctor
with a crooked tie and wavy hair.
He is pointing to me, as I hold pink lansoprazole to quell Mr. Watson’s raging stomach.
He’s an old man, you see. He can’t take much pain I tell him,
We’re understaffed, I tell him,
I’m always running, I tell him,
from patient to patient, from nurse to nurse, to
the senior doctor to decode my colleagues’ hieroglyphics.
The Men in Suits line us up for our final register,
They straighten their ties,
They uncrease their trousers,
They clear their throats,
They inspect every single one
of our loyal troops.
The junior doctor who is still panting furiously.
The nurse displaying her polished silver watch, as if it were a war medal,
The cleaner with his trusty mop and bucket always standing by,
The hospital consultant whose forehead displays his battle scars,
The electrician trying to protect the lightbulb’s modesty,
And me, the civillian, with the tube up my nose.
The Men in Suits take out their checkboards and pens.
One cross is all we need
to be dissolved.
Our victories will be forgotten,
our trophies will lie buried underneath
Never to shine again.
So this is the second draft of a poem I wrote for a competition about the NHS.The general idea behind it is how the NHS is suffering from being underfunded, but it’s still soldiering on and doing what it’s doing without complaints. Thanks to Jaz for beta-reading this and my dad for telling me about lansoprazole.