The Solitary Oak on Mount Kremlin-Bicêtre

for Jean Lapresle, the "Father" of neuro-pathology in France: 1909-2000

On Bicêtre Mount a stately oak did spread its unmeshed

boughs to swarms of sparrows beating retreat

To turtle-doves and flapping pigeon-mates a frolicksome


Where now on thunder-split crutches hop the mocking


Its black upturned tail uppity down high-domed arches’

smooth-shorn limbs

Desolate within chilled-threaded casements of fading


Sleek crows guard the sentinel post where gentle souls

tread lonesome

Once his benign fiery eye caught the tame light in lame

downcast distress

Novice and apprentis sorciers sought the shelter of his

umbrella wing

The charge-nurse at his beck and call

Under the official seal of his high personal chair

Now the lordly craftsman called to lay down his tools in

honorary quack contempt

By some aging loyal birds too meek to fly away

Too lame to avoid the headlong charge down tearing fate

Had him appear in white blouson for the nonce’s sake

No nurse to jump at the phone’s end

No student his ears peeled to every question

No professorial stamp at his command

“You know he takes no new patients…”

The voice trailing hoarse and dead

Carting rough brown bulky dossiers in his failing arms



A Visitor in his home

Nay A thief in his fiefdom

He stalks a room any room for a moment’s reprieve

The hand now shaky

The date a tussle with memory

Then the long unnoticed wait at the central desk

To ask for his patient the next bi-annual appointment


Like a patient

A whole life ministering to other personal needs

“When you no more have the charge of the place…”

His eyes want to plead in lieu of apology

Then abruptly the bi-annual rendez-vous is blocked

No excuse no reason is proffered

Only by chance you surmise

The frail fallen oak lies limp in some forsaken lot

T. Wignesan

If I might be allowed to say so, I think my "first" love was poetry. Unfortunately for me, the British curricula at school did not put me in touch with the Metaphysical Poets, nor with the post-Georgian school. Almost all the school texts after World War II contained invariably Victorian narrative poems and some popular examples of Romantic poetry. I chanced upon a selection of T. S. Eliot's and Fitzgerald's Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, and a little later on Pope's An Essay on Man and Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. That did the trick. Yet, I regret not having taken to prose in earnest earlier than the publication of my first collection: Tracks of a Tramp (1961). There's nothing like trying your hand at all kinds of prose exercises to come to grips with poetry. Or rather to see how poetry makes for the essence of speech/Speech and makes you realise how it can communicate what prose cannot easily convey. I have managed to put together several collections of poems, but never actually sought to find homes for them in magazines, periodicals or anthologies. Apart from the one published book, some of my sporadic efforts may be sampled at of Poems.htm

Last updated July 05, 2016