It’s easy to get caught up in the moment and think that all of a sudden we have the freehold on disease, that there was never such a threat to life as now. Shug Hanlan’s poem today is a powerful reminder that each generation has been marked, scarred and defined by a particular serious illness. In Shug’s own words this poem is about ‘a disease that affected my family before I was born’. Hailing from Falkirk and associated in the 1990s with Rebel Inc anthologies, Shug published a prose collection Hi Bonnybrigg and Other Greetings in 2000, and in recent years a number of pamphlets with Kerfuffle Press, including his latest poetry collection The Look-Out Man, available here.
The men are all away somewhere,
in the country breathing better air.
A hospital is where they bide,
tucked up in beds placed outside.
My dad had a fine old time,
joining the sanatorium conga line.
Other patients dressed in drag,
no one permitted to have a fag.
When he finally returned home,
it came at a cost.
A war won; a lung lost.
The recovery would never be complete.
My brother only saw a stranger
walking along a TB street.