17 december 2015

One Military Hospital

At Klipdrift military base
just outside Potchefstroom
where now the kaki bush,
other weeds and grass are knee high
 
through ash holes, rubbish, broken glass
barbwire, tins and stones we went
with fire in movement exercises
and live ammunition fired over us.
 
We ran, cat walked, leopard crawled
and was sent to and fro
with bullets hitting up dust around us
and some grenades were tossed
a distance away.
 
The very next day my left knee
was busted good and well
and when I reported sick
the PTI-corporal
almost busted his gut
and touched the crossed swords
on his arms
 
and told me if by any chance
I came out of the sickbay that day
he would see to it
that I would really take a beating.
 
The doctor at the sickbay,
called in another one
and yet another one
and the three of them
didn’t want to treat me
 
and said that there was a big chance
of me losing my knee
which was swollen like a rugby ball
and they sent me by ambulance
straight to One Military Hospital
at Voortrekkerhoogte in Pretoria.
 
I was wheeled into casualties,
where I had to wait some time
while shot up people
flown in straight from the war
was treated first.
 
When they finally got to me
they took one look at the leg
and wheeled me into
an operating theatre
where they asked
if I wanted to walk again?
 
I just said heal me
and they removed my uniform,
strapped me down
with bands around my feet
hands and legs
 
and gave two injections
just above the knee cap
and said that it was local anaesthetic
but wouldn’t help much
and that nothing would really
take the pain away
of the next procedure.
 
They pushed a big syringe
with a large needle
in under my knee cap
and the pain was great
as they pulled out puss
but I didn’t make a sound
while tears of pain
were in my eyes.
 
The laboratory identified
the infection that I had
and they said that I have got
septic arthritis
and everything was swell
while I got a drip
with the right antibiotics
and some pain killers,
 
watched television from a set
on the wall,
had my own radio
to choose music from
and could even order
from a menu
and it was like staying
in a great hotel
where they fixed me properly
and after two weeks
that was like a holiday
I walked out of there.
 
[PTI=Physical training instructor.]


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other poems: For now and for always, The temptation of being near to her, Your walking away is measured in watt, In the garden (ABECEDARIUM), Just for a moment it is there, There are people, Unknowing we may be living in a war zone, Holiday, I yearn for the secrets of nature (sonnet), At 52 the nuts of my country are stripped, A strange dream (triolet), The beach, the morning, Where star systems do disappear in the nought (sonnet), Come to my flower garden, Warriors of the civil service, This morning the sky glitters blue, You must not show any fear, My dear loving God, Sad tidings, Morning, Mirror image, The sun hangs orange red, Divorce V, Divorce IV (Espinela), Divorce III, Divorce II (cavatina), Divorce, Respite, At times we are only set on passing (American sonnet), The peach tree, The gardener, The old guitar (cavatina), Dear Lord God, Still life, Two sides to everything (cavatina), I have missed my country, The sardine run, He lies stretched out in the sun, Africa, There’s no other country, When death’s fingers do me touch, I wonder where is an untouched place that firmly does stand, You never came, I am afraid, The silent countdown, Without matter, Dare you character?, Once I wrote a kind of happy song (Orléans rondel prime), There is no other saviour, Alone we come into the world (for my mom on mother’s day), With hunger in your eyes, Please do forgive, Hoba West Meteor, When I do consider how my time is spent, I see him doing carpentry, When the two of us met, John Phillip, On Pretoria (Italian sonnet), Return, Cecil John Rhodes (Italian sonnet) (in answer to Rudyard Kipling), Afterwards, I walk in the veldt near to Majuba hillock, Vain are the words and deeds that are mine (Rubiyat sonnet), When I do find no place of peace (sonnet), Why I remember the Anglo-Boer war (John Dee sonnet), Lord, only in Your footsteps (Persian / Rubiyat quatrain), On a night, Far too quickly time rushes on (Persian /Rubiyat quatrain), Like any other person, She lives beautiful (sonnet), Where this world is but a grain of sand, On the day of my birth, The crucifixion of the Son of God, Today my heart is full of joy, A prayer (Sonnet), On my birthday, My heart has gone quite in me (Persian / Rubiyat quatrain), Come to me, Soldier: yesterday, At this place I have been before (sonnet), There had been a kind of loneliness, When the early the morning does begin (cavatina), Constantly I am astonished, When I hold you tight, Life is a gift, Bus trip at night, I have not seen the spark of life, Kamikaze, Lucifer at sunrise, The things in a town, When from me she is out of sight, How chilly like winter, Some times, I love you, Long Beach, As my eyes gaze into the dark night, I see her dancing gaily, Right against the morass, African September, A room in the past, The secret room, It had been a hell of spring with the sun hanging scorching, The marsh, For my darling, with New Year, The old year, Today people are not interested, South Africa is also my country, In this distant country, What fanciful lives we lead, As if they are beacons, You are my darling (sonnet), On Christmas, Last night I dreamt of you, Where are we now?, I had dreamt of you, At night the mind plays its tricks, Inside you and I dance, One Military Hospital, Something about a bird in a tree, While the year hangs skeleton, I gave my love to you, No other painting, Field of maize, The red arum lilies, Would my words, When the front door, At dusk, Child, Cry, Maybe 4, Maybe 3, Maybe 2, To be us, Photocopy machine, I do love Africa, While everything is turning brown outside, The crumbling man, My small Jack Russell dog, With self contempt I stand in the veldt, The fallen Cuban soldier, There is a time when night sneaks in, After the farm invasions in Zimbabwe, The small redbreast sings and dances, I love you, Walls, A child is a strange thing, Baby lies so fast asleep, It is a pitch-dark night, Hecuba, A pastor,

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