Poems are best read aloud. Such is true of the poems of Welsh Poet, blogger, teacher, and editor of RED POETS magazine, (pictured here with the fabulous cover) and children's book writer, Mike Jenkins, who writes in Welsh dialect. His work crosses genres and his books can be found on his website. He's traveling in the U.S. and I had to pleasure of hearing him read his poems at the Syracuse Downtown Writer's Center Friday September 28.
His work evokes character and place. Jenkins gives voice to people on the edge, the poor, homeless, characters wandering, riding busses and as in this poem, sitting in an emergency department, or "surjree." This poem, for adult readers, is part of his collection entitled BARKIN! that was inspired by people in the town of Merthyr, Wales, where he lives.
Jenkins' poem, "Surjree Talk" feels universal. Emergency departments everywhere involve patients who are suffering in their own particular way and who seem to be inevitably asked in some language or dialect the equivalent of, "Yew orright 'en?"
Funny ow, in-a surjree
ev'ryone always says--
'Yew orright 'en?'
Yew could ave yewer leg
bout to drop off, yewer skin
all covered over in sores;
yewer yers totelee blocked,
eyes bloodshot in agonee
joints crooked with arthritis;
yew could ave yewer ead poundin
with a migraine, nose streaming
an throat like a clogged chimley;
yewer eart bout to explode,
liver and kidneys pickled but not delicacies,
yewer goolies pocked with disease,
yew could ave all o these
an yew'd still bloody well reply--
'Not too bard, ow about yew?'
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