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by James Richards

‘We want your name.
Yes, we must have that.
No name? Paste the stamps
from your forehead onto the page.

We take what we can.
Numbers, we want them all.
This might hurt a bit.                                                                                                                          When the tears come,
seal them in the tiny envelopes provided.

We will accept cotton pockets
in place of envelopes.
Your hands must be in them.
We take what we can.

Stare at the third page till you see
yourself, Tear out your eyes
along the perforation.
Keep them for your records.

The buzzing you hear is normal.
The bells are not. Let the doctor push
his ring-finger between your ribs
to stop the swinging. Move carefully                                                                                                          for four months. Swallow                                                                                                                         no ice. If you need to cough,
use sign language. Unless
you have sent us your hands.
In that case, we cannot help you.