Tony Gapper from London, resides in Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo. Published widely including: Arrival Press, 1993, 1997; Poetry Now, 1993-1995, 1997; Anchor Books, 1995; North West London Newspapers, Letter of the Week/Poem, 1994; Enfield Friends of the Earth, 1995; Bookmark Publications, 1997; Creative Writing.ie, 2014-2015, short stories/poetry: The Galway Review, poetry, 2015; Interflora’s Little E-Book of Romantic Verse, 2015 and Brain Teaser, Sin Newspaper (NUIG), 2015. In October 2014, recited short story/poetry at Books Are My Bag event (Charlie Byrnes Bookshop, Galway), and poetry (Over the Edge Open Reading). I am presently undertaking an M.A. (Writing) at NUI, Galway.
South African Prayers
Rib-bloated mother with baby. Fly-festered child suckles
what barren stores remain.
already blistered and untreated skin
beneath an unrelenting sun.
Weeping children’s hunger pangs pool in salty tears
as fathers search for food traces.
Half the children experience
scant levels of calcium, iron and zinc.
One in five have chronic malnutrition.
One in ten die within their first year of life.
How easily their lifeforce flatlines.
Medical supplies are fickle offerings,
the virus pummels through
unseen veins of village people!
lives that demands greater humanity.
Raw, cropless fields.
Berries, insects, rice –
a family’s hamper.
desperate far-away eyes
probe the dirt tracks
for the next lorry delivery.
The body count is over for today.
Torrential rain whips and lashes.
Nettle-infested, tangled gardens
lead to gaping twisted barb-wire
rusting a speckled, sickly orange-brown.
What slates remain
ground into damp-festered, pointy rooftop,
overlook ramshackled earthy-old cottage,
and stone icy-cold cladding.
Window sills, peeled and cracked,
their rotting timber, mildew-riddled.
The chimney disperses cloudy smoke-plumes,
unearthly stench rising from the cellars.
A malnourished scaly-skinned,
flea-ridden black cat,
thin scratchy line where whiskers once grew,
wails an eerie warning
stabbs at the writhing shell of
an upturned beetle.
Frogs and toads splayed
repulsive organs exposed,
withered muscle tissue and charcoal-grey bones,
torn and bloodless.
spider combs first her silk to wrap
then glues to entrap,
spinneret glands poised at her abdomen’s apex.
Splintered-jagged slightly ajar door
its buckled hinges creak,
goading intruders into unnerving entry point.
I hesitate fleetingly
yet drawn, spellbound, ever-forwards and inwards
where a hellpit bubbles and spits venom
stoked by razor-sharp claw
I glimpse side-on.
Shocked into insidious paralysis,
I smell erotically-charged pungent musk.
Heart pulsates within my very core.
A shrill cackling haunts me even now
diverts own fear-ridden gaze
while soulless, demonic-black eyes
Trip to the Dentist
Stuffy dentist’s waiting room,
tingling in my toes,
man with nervous twitch,
lady blows her nose.
Child pulls a zombie-face,
teeth a gleamy yellow,
Dad reads the Irish Times
passive sort of fellow.
At last my name is called
one last private prayer.
“Good morning Tony,
are you comfy in my chair?”
Apprehensively I nod
to words “now open wide.”
Gently stems his mirror
to see what lurks inside.
Within this yawning orifice
hardened plaque to remove,
my tongue begins to flicker
coils within its groove!
“Couple of fillings Tony,
and your teeth will need a polish
the remnants of trapped food
you obviously demolish!”
An hour drags slowly by,
I feel dreary and defeated,
my mouth and lips real numb
and somewhat overheated!