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Jamie Woods



the poet

Jamie Woods, a writer from Swansea, has poetry in Poetry Wales, Ink Sweat & Tears, Lucent Dreaming and elsewhere. With his work centring on experiences of disabilities and cancer, Jamie has been commended in the Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine 2021, and is now poet-in-residence at the charity Leukaemia Care. His debut pamphlet, Rebel Blood Cells, is available from Punk Dust Poetry.

the poems

The Silence of
the Hospital Ward

00:00 / 01:49

            Silence is elusive, is illusive.

            When your head is on the pillow

            and you think that it’s close

            you complacently relax and it scurries.

            Clocks ticking.

            The mundane drip of the tap, the one

            with handles for elbows 

            that you’re too far away from to give a nudge off.

            The low-level buzz of electric light.

            The slow wheeze heart and lung churn of the IV pump

            and the siren when it’s nearly run out or you just bump the tube.

            Other people’s ringtones, message chimes,

            other people’s phone calls. Other people’s conversations.

            The excitement of family,

            the desperate anger.

            The admin of auxiliaries and nurses and doctors,

            the gossip of auxiliaries and nurses and doctors.

            The driving mechanics, the alarms, the beeps;

            blood pressure, oxygen count, your still-beating heart.

            Painkillers wearing off.

            The screams fly as wraiths through walls and curtains

            biting and snatching away dying hope.

            At night, at day – no time here, just numbers  –

            the ward whispers sting with invasiveness,

            the rumbles of breathlessness and nasal congestion,

            the snores, the moans, hurt like needles.

            The shock, the pain, the begging.

            The trundle of the drug trolley,

            and the screams at night, my God,

            the screams at night terrify, terrorise.

            Clarion calls for carrion attacks.

            Not me, not this time.

            Clocks ticking.

            Headphones on, I sleep with the spoken word,

            smooth voices, TED talks and shipping forecasts,

            waking throughout, until Thought for the Day:

            unrested, unblessed, undead.

Johnson’s Baby Shampoo

00:00 / 00:46

                        I get flashbacks now

                        months later

                        when I step out of the shower

                        and bury my face in the towel

                        I’m back

                                   in the showers at Singleton

                                   the water blasting furiously, too hot,

                                   with a precious locked door

                                   refuge from the dormitories

                                   let myself go,

                                   unheard, unashamed,

                                   the raging water and baby shampoo

                                   blanch away the fatigue

                                   from my dying broken skin

                                   cry into the towel

                                   until I’m ready to go back

                                   to a freshly made bed

                                   hospital corners, military precision,

                                   fake smiles distracting from coal-blackened eyes

                        and I know 

                        I’m not there anymore,

                        but it’s scalded into my brain and I can’t find

                        the right type of soap I need

                        to wash it all away.

Wolf Alice & Camper Van
Beethoven Live at the
Adam Smith Institute

00:00 / 01:08

            Had a dream last night and everyone was coughing 

            In therapy today she forgets why we’re here

            Tell me about a recent social situation that made you anxious?

            I’ve not been in a social situation for the last two years

            Everybody’s going out for lunch these days

            So jealous of your new-found laissez-faire

            I buy tickets for a concert that I’m aching for

            But in my scared heart, I know I won’t go.

            Resell them at face value in a free-market economy

            The Adam Smith Institute must think that I’m ill.



            Last night there were two hundred people in the room.

            Walls sweat-shimmered, shoulders condensed, screaming tears,

            You’re a Germ, kinetic hormones released.

            Words now airborne, choruses viral.

            I stay at home in my germ-free convalescence

            Playing scratched old records for the left-behind.

Publishing credits

The Silence of the Hospital Ward / Johnson’s Baby Shampoo:

  Rebel Blood Cells (Punk Dust Poetry)

Wolf Alice & Camper Van Beethoven Live at the Adam Smith

  Institute: Poetry Wales (Vol. 58, Issue 1)


S h a r e

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