999 Monk

it’s easy being a monk in a monastery
holy bones in a gilded reliquary
a simple chapel that overlooks
startling cliffs with crows and rooks
dusty latin from dusty books
comfortable sandals
tapers and candles
luminous eyes on painted panels

try being a monk in A&E
3AM on a Saturday
biblical scenes of evil and good
up to your beards in vomit and blood
sirens in the neighbourhood
aprons and cannulas
wisecracking janitors
flatlining prayers on cardiac monitors

Literary A&E: Four case histories

Patient A: 59 yo male. History of freewriting, blogging. Known to self-publish. Suffered an acute disarticulation of the expressive centre when experimenting with comedy shorts. Self-presented to this department with chronic spiritual pain & morbid imagery.
Treatment: 500ml bolus of Camus, five day course of anti-prolixities. Ref to writing support group.

Patient B: 20 yo female. History of confessional poetry and dilatory doodles. Social media addiction on a background of gothic selfies. Suffered a prolonged dystopia.
Treatment: stat dose 10ml Sharon Olds, 10ml Carol Ann Duffy, to be replaced in the community with Joan Didion and Patricia Lockwood.

Patient C: 82 yo female. Extensive history of village-based eulogia, Miss Read and R F Delderfield. Presented to this department via emergency mobile library, suffering a distressing episode of unexplained profanity. Found to be in ATBS (Acute Toxic Bucolic Syndrome).
Treatment: 10mg The Sopranos, IM. Ref to the James Herriot Memorial Clinic. Travelcard.

Patient D: 38 yo male. History of BA History, followed by MA Viking & Anglo-Saxon Studies. Developed Pernicious Sagamania, manifesting in tattoos, facial hair and intermittent DnD. Self-admitted to this department on a tandem he called his ‘long bike’.
Treatment: 1mg Paw Patrol, followed by a short course of PowerPuff Girls. Ref to community Norse Team.