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Mr. Kilmer

Ben Kilmer is home,

washed and swaddled,

picked clean to the bone.


The nurses packed the bay rum,

and one ribbed sliver of soap,

wrapped in a blue wash rag.


His wife feeds him his Ensure

from an enamel mug,

stained black with bitter coffee.


Neighbours bring bush rum,

oranges, green limes – gifts

to lay at the altar of the dying.


They smell the metallic rust,

the bloody froth of diarrhoea.

He croaks, ‘Turn me,’


And croaks again, ‘Turn me.’

The daylight seeps down

into the bamboo patch.


He sucks his diamorphine

from a pharmacy spoon

and talks to the beckoning dead.


Pain comes in the darkness.

Its black root arm

corkscrewing into his bones.


For seven nights, we wake

to hear his litany of anguish.

‘Oh God, oh God, oh God.’


Then one night,

we sleep out a sweet sleep,

wake in daylight and know

Ben Kilmer is dead.

Mr. Kilmer: Text
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