Paula Cunningham

Seeing Things

At the Winter Park ski-holiday reunion     

who swans in only Stevie              

whose legs don’t take him far –

he’d been hammering under another man’s car

when another man’s bomb went off.


Answer: the skin.              

It’s Trivia night

and we’re in with a chance.

All the other tables are offering liver.

What is the largest organ in the body?


In Winter Park we’re triple-

wrapped in thermals

but he’s shirtless:

a sophisticated instrument

of thermo-regulation.


Homoeostasis: the body

as a furnace.

The sweat-glands

and erector pili muscles

co-operate to keep the body cool.


The hypothalmus

is conductor of the body’s

secret business;

but skin grafts don’t have glands

and scars are bald.


Anyway Stevie has walked

the twenty yards from his special car

and he’s wrecked

and his stumps are sore

and we get tore in to the drink


and we all get legless

and everyone in the Welly Bar

(we’re only here for the ramps

and we’ve jumped the queue)

is legless and Stevie has taken his off,


all smooth American tan

with the socks and the cool shoes on,

and we laugh out loud

at the pretty woman

on stilts who almost


jumps out of her skin

and the plastered people    

who swear

they’re seeing things

and we know they are.




“Seeing Things” is from  Heimlich’s Manoeuvre (Smith Doorstop Books, 2013)