Richard Tyrone Jones
Richard Tyrone Jones is a comedian and poet. He is director of Utter! Spoken Word and director of spoken word at the Edinburgh Festival Free Fringe. In 2010, he suffered idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy, which he describes as a “blood clot inside my heart”. He reflects on this in the following poem.
The ward’s tourniquets sport smiling cartoon Draculas;
all night, old men’s alarms have burst my dreams.
A med. student, red-nailed, raven-haired, immaculate,
asks so many questions it’s like she wants to date me.
She reads my wrist with slow, sharp-clawed precision
then joins the rounds. If well, I’d like to rip her skirt off –
and at that thought, dark lightning clasps my chest.
Sweat-drenched, I paw for oxygen, panic button,
it’s like my plug’s been pulled – breath fades so fast
I whimper ‘Mum, I love you’ with my last.
But the heart monitor nurse bursts in, pulls back the curtain,
shouts out: ‘He’s had a gap!’ The rest
dash back, ask the student: ‘Can you – get his shirt off?’
She panics ‘How?’ They just cut it, like on television.
I’m flailing, failing, they’re about to defibrillate me
– ‘Clear!’ – but two docs have already stabbed in canulas;
adrenalin stakes slow paths through my bloodstream.
I’m alive, but empty, trembling, ‘vaso-vascular’.
Cardiomyopathy association website: www.cardiomyopathy.org