Stephen Robertson

Slanting Lines

Capricorn suite

In other news

12 January 2015

Five days after Charlie Hebdo, I learn

that something is growing at the tail end of my colon:

probably malignant.

‘Malignant’ seems too strong a word.

I’m sure it doesn’t really want

to kill me.

Like the asteroid

barrelling onwards, to wipe us out in

ten or a thousand or maybe a million years,

it seems to be acting

not in its own best interests.

Too bad.


16 January 2015

First the bad news, then the good:

it's cancer; but it hasn’t spread.

No balance here.  The bad

is bad in absolute, while the good

is good only in relation to the bad.

The chances are said

to be good.  That’s good

enough, I suppose.

Battle lines

20 January 2015

        Below the thunders of the upper deep,

        Far, far beneath in the abysmal sea,

        His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep

        The Kraken sleepeth

                      — Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Somewhere deep down in my abysmal gut

(well, really, just around the final bend)

this craven kraken creeps, and slumbers not:

a stealth invasion’s getting off the ground.

Up on the surface and for far around,

another creature wakes; great cogwheels grind.

They peer, they scan, they scrape, they test, they sound;

they write their notes, interpret what they find.

The possibility of peace is now long gone.

In just a few days’ time, these two will meet

and clash — and I’m to be the battle ground.

The field is ready now, the lines are drawn.

Whichever wins, whichever meets defeat,

the relict of the fight will be my wound.

The goat

27 January 2015

I am transfixed as a horned goat

charges towards me

from beyond the pale, under my guard,

below the belt and over the line.

What’s in a name?

It’s been too far south all its life:

not cancer, but capricorn.


7 February 2015


An exobladder.

Strapped to my thigh

with elastic and velcro.

Below, a nozzle and tap.

Above, a tube, a valve, a smaller tube.


An invasion of my privacy.

An assault on my dignity.

An abrogation of my autonomy.


In my groin and in my mind’s eye:

A tube inside a tube inside a tube

—only the last lives there.

An inflated bulb to hold

the other two in place.


Discomfort.  Bother.

Irritation.  Nuisance.

Pain? no, not really.


Yellow liquid flows.


Tap left open.

Oh bugger!

The other side

10 February 2015

What was it, then, from which I just emerged?

Did I jump, or was I pulled or pushed?

Did I leap a chasm, ford a raging torrent,

get rolled over by an avalanche,

fall through a wormhole, or cross a mountain range?

Did I march towards my fate,

or did I merely hang on by my fingernails

while the tornado raged around me?

Or was it just a hedge, backwards?

Yesterday I was told: it looks clear.

So life should now appear

as it did a month gone,

BC (Before Capricorn).

But of course that is not so.

Seen from here, the future is changed

utterly.  And I have the scars

to prove it.

The all-clear

20 March 2015

Blitz.  The heavy bombers, lighter now,

are droning back towards their bases,

and fighters too.  The siren call

is in reverse, a brief release—

until the following night at least.

Odysseus' sirens, of course

can offer no such message.  Theirs

is a one-way invitation to the rocks.

But me, now, I'm just lucky.