The world opens its eyes,
Breathes in acrid chemical.
Light enters in a burning slingshot of negative mass and energy.
Quantum slipstream subsides.
The world looks around, absorbs the sterile room.
Sees IV tubing connecting the world to apparatus.
A heart monitor connecting it to machine.
The pumping hydraulics of an oxygen tank in its left ear connecting the world to the industrial soundscape of a futile rebuilding process.
A sigh that shakes the Congo
The world remembers how it got here.
And with that memory comes a sharp pain in the left temple of the world
Instinct compels it to raise a hand to the skull to nurse the wound,
But neurons fire to dead limbs.
The world cannot move.
A lumpen, lead heap of trans-planetary matter.
So, the world buries its fears in a deep silent place
where decades of pain rests obese and dormant.
A mother’s shame, a plugged duct,
A wasted nipple
The world drags its gaze to the ceiling and tries to communicate to its enucleated children,
It burns the stare into something telekinetic.
A concentrated refrain travels through the air and to the collective conscious.
A mercy plead from victim to perpetrator
Mother to typhlotic son
The world asks, ‘when are visiting hours anyway?’
No one replies
Visiting hours are over
No children bothered to come by.
About this poem
This poem was chosen by Hugh McMillan as part of the Scottish Poetry Library’s ‘Champions’ project, a guest curatorship programme to help extend our national reach.
Hugh McMillan says, ‘Chris Kelso writes across genres and is influenced by the American Beat Writers, their use of film, instant imagery and jazz beats. ‘Visiting Hour’ was written in a burst of frustration at humanity’s scarcity of foresight or lack of vision. “The effect is actually intended to be cautionary: he says, “it’s not too late. We don’t have to watch the world die around us, but we need to start being better sons and daughters. And we need to start right now.” Chris wrote the incidental music to the video: a simple thick midrange bass behind soft jazz keys, a kind of “humanities guilt-laden waltz”.’