Gangnam Style

(Waving not Drowning)

Have you seen the suited
man from Gangnam
sitting on the roof of his car
in the recent floods?

He looks relaxed, scrolling
on his phone, even snaps
a photo of himself and
has become a meme

But hey, this is Gangnam
we know the car is
probably insured fully
likely easily replaced

As for his clothing…
he’ll have a wardrobe
full back home way
above the water line

He’s nonchalant really
knows he won’t drown
relaxing on the bonnet
of his car, a modern man

He’s a far cry from the
family in the basement
in another suburb whose
neighbours called for help

4 minutes it took for
help to arrive but it was
too late, they drowned
all three of them

No memes, no flash car
headlines for sure, but
nowhere near as much
fun as Mr Gangnam

who as it turns out, may
be a journalist for Yonhap

waving not drowning

Doctor, doctor


Well, my first memories
are the stucco house
opposite the library
and the war memorial

Our GP had a moustache
and the nurse was mother
to the cute Burmese boy
who was my very first kiss

Rolling forward, there is
the brute who fitted 
my first IUD, a Copper 7
he shoved it in 

I was on the bus before
toxic shock set in
my knees hammering
faster than bus wheels

Then there was my GP
with the comb-over
who was my obstetrician
I fell in love with him

I wasn’t the only one
a girl in the flats two
doors down had a baby
three weeks earlier

We swapped notes about
our loves, that of our babies
and our comb-over GP
who delivered them

I can still see the face
Of the Matron at St Helens
when I told my GP I had
used a mirror and what…

were those balloons, the
bunch of grapes I’d found
down there…
I’d never heard of piles

The matron’s smirk well, it
out-smirked any smirk 
you or I have ever seen 
but the comb-over smiled

The man with the comb-over
told me he was the best IUD
fitter in town and I believed
him, knees up on the bed

When he chatted away 
distracting me and then
insisted I had a cup of tea
before I got off the bed

After my GP with the 
comb-over left, I inherited
a flash-Harry kind of chap
who crossed the line

He drew me diagrams of
how to wipe my bottom
properly (I already knew)
and remarked on my breasts

The size of course, so small
and had I breastfed, his eyes
wide in amazement when
I said yes…

But the bit that finally
did it, was when he had
me almost naked touching 
my toes, both of us laughing

I moved to a new clinic
and years later at the same
practice, I now have a woman
doctor who I totally trust

She’s calm, professional, matter
of fact, and I think she expects
me to take responsibility for
my own health which I like

So, that’s it really…
nothing to see here
just a wee summary.

6th Floor, Guro

I’m standing with my back

firmly against the fridge

holding a 1,500 won weight

moving it up and down

with my elbow as a hinge

Along with this exercise

I’m having Korean traditional

therapy which includes

cupping and acupuncture

some little brown pilloules

Through the grey filter

of a striped blind, I notice

red lights on tall buildings

warnings for all those

jets heading to Incheon

Here I am, alone on the

6th Floor but I rush to

check those red shining

lights and notice everyone

has put their rubbish out

I’m dressed for bed, my

teeth brushed and hopeful

face cream massaged in

but I whip off my night

clothes and dress again

I’m in the lift pushing

door close holding three

bags, two purple and

one yellow (that’s for

the food scraps)

Out I dash, across the

crossing, a lonely figure

as a green bus hurtles

towards me, they don’t

usually give way

But I make it in the glare

of sulphur yellow and

some sad neon and the

loneliness of a traveller

in the big smoke

earlier in the day I made

vegetarian lasagne for

my boy, whose lived

away from home forever

that’s what mothers do

I’m sharing this caring

with his wife’s mother

the two of us devoted

halmoni, bathing those

babies, feeding them

hugging each other

she’s so nimble and

young looking and

we don’t speak the

same language





do …

Bang a drum

(after reading 'Small Things like these' by Claire

We've hit Gentle Annie 
passed the pub at Okaramio
and on the left, at Wakapuaka
there’s Sunnybank where
parents left their children 

An oddly named orphanage
manned (ha) by Nuns
childless women in black
habits, scapula, cowls and 
easy access to rosary beads

A cross they could finger
as they scowled at the
babies, whose parents had
either died, got sick or
perhaps were ashamed

but should we judge 
the nuns, in retrospect
or forgive them…
their sometimes cruelty
this question was raised

at book group recently
reading ‘Small Things
Like These' by Claire Keegan 
I thought of my siblings
not even orphans, just

babies really, under
five years of age
one washing their
own shitty pants
in a locked room

where they found
a drum to bang
and they banged
and banged and
banged the drum