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                       Susan Schneider Williams with 'Lewy Body Days.'


                  Kobus Moolman, poet, playwright, short story writer and associate professor of creative writing at The University of Western Cape, South Africa, wrote: ‘Incredible! Moving and powerful. These are amongst the best poems of yours. They have such vibrancy too. You must do something with them.’ Well here they are.


Lewy Body Days

Joop Bersee

Copyright © Joop Bersee 2017

All rights reserved. Except for brief passages
quoted in a newspaper or magazine review,
no part of this publication may be reproduced
in any form or any means without permission
 in writing from the author.

Cover: Jessica-Anne Bersee, 2017.
Many thanks Sandy for your hard work.

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for Robin Williams


Come in. Sorry about me,
I wasn’t expecting anyone,
 for the lack of dignity;
I am a poor man.

I hear a soft gnawing,
sometimes feel barb wire.
But no explosion as with the one we knew.
Depression and dementia,

people like me should not be hidden.
We must face the truth, like I face mine.
The mask is gone, the phony words.
It all made place for loneliness.

Loneliness is not no talking.
Silence between two people is talking.
The silence saying: ‘I love. I care.’
Hold me for I am lost.

Running out of time.
My now is my tomorrow;
it never stops
unless we together.

I went for a walk, the horizon frozen.
 I can get there now and touch it.


The distance is closing in.
I only have to stretch my arm,
perhaps a little more, to touch
the horizon with a finger, stroking
the cat’s back walking past.

Would I feel ashamed having dementia?
No, keep on going.

No closet

The days are changing from azure
fingers to an old, damp tweed jacket
as I set out. The boat beneath my feet
disappears into the cataract fog with
 its face no longer chained to my shame.

Lots of snails in the garden after rain.
 How vulnerable we really are.


I am a fragile story,
A snail on a busy road.
Who put me there without thinking?
Of course, there is no thinking.
A bird sees me and pecks me in half.

A thought about death, feelings I will leave behind,
clothes. The room where my brother died.


Love, money, mashed in a foggy bowl.
The wardrobe in a shredder,
only the smell of a dead bird in a pillow case
lingers on, takes us by the hand
into the sun, the bloody egg shell.

I had the idea that someone thought
the whole world is passing me by.

The idiot

What is there behind me?
O, nothing. Yes I saw that bird.
There it goes. All the way to
the blood sun with its sails.
We will see that later. Patience.

Forgetting, not recognizing, losing memories for ever.


Of course we will never arrive, not knowing
where we sang our songs, nor recognizing
the towers of our castle where margins killed
themselves, jumping down, clinging onto
their pillow cases, smiling the real deep sleep.

My physical decline. Still keep on going.


I remember leaning against my spine.
Now I sit in my veteran wheelchair,
or lean on my walking stick, gun powder
still in my hair. No I am not retired. My war
goes on, sniper ready to blow my brain out.

Doing some pruning in the garden,
Some blood on my hand, feeling good. Alive!

Red roses

I pruned the roses scratching me,
joyful colour of blood so beautiful.
Each day I love my joints, ligaments
obeying my brain, months, years
the disappearing heart, unfamiliar.

A feeling, thought, as if someone
is following me, checking me out,
seeing my deterioration, how it ends.


And the LBD site makes
a buzzing sound, like microphones do
following you around,
from the green country to the blue
alleys filled with examined, sliced brains.

My lack of concentration and tiredness
made me lose my job.

On and on

They say I repeat myself.
The waterfall is one long repeat,
the pyramids. I am forgetful I heard.
I cannot function at work. I must leave.
I will be quiet now, and won’t forget.

I have no access to the world of people,
who know me, talk about me. Good things,
gossip. Are they angry?

No admittance

They say things behind my back,
or above or under me, somewhere,
where I can’t go yet. Likely a room
I have never seen before. People are
the same. I won’t mention any names.

I see this powder coming down,
not knowing what it stands for.
But I accept it.

Even dust survives

All roads lead to nowhere,
to where I began: walk a forest
and the strange sound of a bird.
Is it a bird? I bet it is just powder
with a pulse, effortlessly outliving me.

This constant feeling in my head.
I can’t escape, like some kind of ritual.

Brush it

A constant rain and I use my hairbrush
trying to brush the feeling in my skull away,
brush it into the sea – ridiculous – or,
better, a darkroom, no more measuring
the slow act of dying, into the hands of rituals.

Walking, seeing mud, leaves, tracks.


I am leaning and breathing, hear the
pheasant, push my walking stick deeper
into the mud where soon lambs
will leave their tracks behind, by the gate,
as if taken by something cruel.

I am losing parts.

Falling apart

Losing means a slow blinking of
my eyes. Cutting my finger nails,
in the rubbish bin. Me. A bit of a nail
is a bit of me. I keep them now. Tape
them to my hands; I’m still here, complete.

I only surrender to destroy.


The rhino leaves me alone.
Reading about adult day care.
I will destroy the place, burn it down,
because I can’t kickstart my brain.
I take my bullet proof vest off. Unarmed.

Surrendering and kneeling, lost. Returning to roots.

Watch me going

I expose my rib cage, skin peeled off.
I am not scared of my Master bleeding
as I howl in the deep tribal position,
dismantled, the other life spinning.
Who knows us but the shape of life?

Yes the same, the same. Quiet now.

Coughing up

Estuaries take our hands and show
where we will plough till our horses
drown and we flee to the wall where
the house is, built of scratch marks,
drowned broken nails, pale hammered lungs.

TV is too much. Shopping is too much
but I get there anyway.

I haven’t seen

From the cupboard to the bed, waiting
for the first big failure, a crack in the mirror,
no clothes to cover the body disengaging,
getting pale as flowers on the deck of a ship,
sprayed with salty water, a one time event.

Well I don’t know. It’s all coming this way.


The black paint of the ship’s name rains
gently into the sea like mourners behind
the yes and no hearse, covered with mouths.
I was a fish in a different ocean, trespassing.
But now I am the magnet, swimming in circles.

I can follow my steps back. No I can’t.
The bridges and the ships are burned.

Still going somewhere

How can I see the other side of
this page, being an adult, wrestling in
mud all the time? Fantasizing is designing,
the world before and after Colossus with the
vague descriptions leading to nothing.

I have to. I write feverishly
as I have contact.

I can write

The hungry word and the body become
as one, waking, waking, businesslike days,
meadows growing in the bedroom, attic,
lounge, a wave entering my head,
fever exiting my ears, the strings quiet.

Everything is now contaminated.

Yes, nothing

I lie on my side looking at the dead fish.
Both its eyes staring. One at the ground,
the other at nothing. Not even the sky,
nor me. It is an image, soon smelly or
eaten by the ground, dismantling spring.

The day the earth will disappear.

In the end

After my sad demise memories will
hang in the air like radio waves, walk
around in a few heads, spreading anecdotes.
I will be more dead than weeds. They feed
off vanishing waves in the air.

Explanations will burn up.

Doesn’t stop raining

I will be laid to rest, eventually,
on the eternal granite slab, covered
with fresh green leaves, except my face.
Voices will rise higher and higher
till they burn, minds fixed, gusts of rain.

It has found me like a sniffer dog.

Light cutting

I am sitting in the same electric, leather chair,
Latitude and Longitude, but another attitude.
The angle of the light cutting, slicing the air.
Sometimes the tide comes in, burning my eyes
with matches, my chest 7.1 on the Richter scale.

Things are not what they seem.

From the sky

The clouds circle the sun like vultures a corpse.
Faster and faster they turn becoming a grey eye,
then disappear, evaporate. A mountain becomes
visible, something about me, a quiet place where
I can sit, where I can listen to echo’s on repeat.

                                It is dark. Is there anyone out there?

Well, when will it happen?

During the day I wait for the evening,
for sunset and darkness, how this powder
comes down from who knows where,
embraces me, touches my face, my eyes
and I inhale it, satisfying my flawed brain.

It can not be changed. It’s behind me.

Dragging myself

Even if I would walk into the sea,
trying to reach dream number seven,
the tent I now live in will not disappear.
I sit by the fire, a blanket wrapped around me,
Behind me the remains of my meal, maggots ahead.

Losing my mind like that.

Won’t see it coming

Fear comes and goes, a large bird with bat wings.
It hides in the garden for days, now only inside my head.
But one day it will reveal itself, awakening a circus,
people, animals, me the little child holding onto dad
who isn’t there, all eyes black ponds, their whirlpools pulling.

You can’t walk away from the last appointment.
Making people happy.

It’s better

I know it is going to scoop my brain out. It is not
my doing but the house where I am expected
in time, slowly sinking into many small spots
where stars are waiting and the sea with its sword.
It will be my arranged departure, a perfect dark day.

Some kind of Titanic experience, jump, freeze & die.

Nothing irregular

Yes it is better to laugh! We must keep the storm outside.
We don’t want to drown. But we do get pushed around
like wrappers on a bridge, broken umbrella’s everywhere.
I know that we will be cut in half by a circular saw.
Our bodies don’t do things by halves.

Arms swinging, breathing the salty air below.
But they won’t forget.

Down under

Tasting the sea. Arms, legs moving to stay afloat.
More movement to go forward, hitting the wall,
the bowl with grapes on the nightstand launched,
the bloody grapes turning into a clear puddle.
In the morning sunrise and my shadow on the wall.

There’s a time for everything but not today.

Where we going?

Is this the last bus? Home or a home? I will become
silent. Only resting and then slowly crawling through
dense barbed wire to hell where they suck anything
that works slowly out of my thin toothpaste tube,
rib cage, pothole brain, the thinnest cables being cut.

No, am I living here? Are you sure?

I can’t, it’s strange

The houses have changed, the streets.
I wonder what happened.  I feel panic
invading me. Read my collar, read my
tag and tell me where to go. I am not
a dog. I can’t find home, if I recognize it.

Where was that beginning then?


What about this street? What happened to
the one where I learned to cycle, someone
running next to me? The boundaries have
been removed and I can fall off the planet.
You think there is some kind of angelic web?

I like it at school. Our teacher likes piano’s.

That’s how I am

In the now lies the past, half a century whistling
songs from school, the smell of the chalk when
wiping the blackboard. I always liked it. Now
they say I have a mute face and talk about things
no one sees, or am quiet without remorse.

I know, I know I forgot.

So and then, a fountain?

It is as if I have walked an enormous distance,
been through a strange landscape, meeting
more and more strangers, never arriving
unless someone tells me I have, like my wife
on the telephone. Then I am home.

It’s nature. You lose and gain. I gain loss.

No not that moment

The caterpillars in my head move
and eat, crawl and eat slowly until
there are no leaves left, nothing more
than a soft sponge, staring at some
butterflies pointing out which flowers.

I hear the sea. As far now as the lounge.

Sound of the empty shell

I can no longer go for walks on the beach.
The sound makes me angry.
Drowning in an ocean of anxiety. I hear those
waves as I sit at home, and the salty air
swears instead of preserving what’s left.

The walls and bookcase are another form of life.

A priest and his bodies

How must I respond, in an inanimate mood?
The old bookcase seems to stare at me, feeling sorry.
We are so sorry. It carries temporary things, as
the ice pick hacks away at the altar between my ears.
I kneel because this is the law, adding voice after voice.

So distant and cold being here.

Chapter to chapter

You know that sometimes I don’t feel much.
I see you touch my hand and I am the popsicle nailed
to a chair. Just know that I am in jail then and have to
wait for my hour of fresh air. I walk in a strange way.
It’s because I walk the letters of your name.

Visitor, visitor stay away.

Not scared

I know that you are ready when I start to hallucinate,
that you will turn the monsters into softly weeping people,
collecting all their good feelings into their hands,
then hand them to you. You thank them and they leave.
I wish they’d stayed a bit longer but they visit many people.                                  

I felt sorry for him. He is like a little boy.

Yes doctor

The doctor feels uncomfortable, lonely, facing me.
Shrugs his shoulders, almost.
I will burn a rat tonight and study the position of the bones.
That will tell me more.
Or let’s visit some more sangomas.

I might as well lie next to the ducks in the park.

I was here

The doctor says he doesn’t know.
I also don’t know so that is good and I agree.
‘It might’ he says and yes it might so it might not as well.
I am living with a real bitch in my head, carving her name                                                           in my brain. One day they’ll read: LBD was here.

Corridors with people.
Now in a home!

Where brains turn

I try to find my way. There are a lot of people.
Some are real and some not. I cannot imagine
that someone takes the cat to this place, everybody
as slow as me, brains on the floor next to the shoes.
There is talking but no communicating.

It doesn’t matter not knowing. Not always.

Today is my day

What day is it today? One that is alive.
More I need not know, and if they
want more then they must come and get me,
hoist the king, that’s me, out of his chair,
clean my body as it lies there.

People touch me and I let them. I am one.

This compost heap

I don’t wear my shoes that often,
only to smoke outside and be sad.
Then I carry it back inside, shiver a bit
when I am aware of this living cemetery
talking to me, as if I know where they are.

Some want to become a carpenter when grown up.

Knowledge evaporated

There is no one here with a craft.
It left most heads, sometimes a remembrance.
We are the worn tools, the shiny
metal gathering ghosts. Remember
the morning chained to lost hope?

All the people in the buses rushing, o no.

They make me tired

As far as I can see the men are bald.
They worry too much. Accept this –
Look out of the window. Sometimes
life goes too fast, people, traffic. Then
I close my eyes, rest, know I am damned.

As long as I flush my ass.


Toilets with yellow sliding doors with gaps.
A shaking lump of decay, pants down.
I would never forget it, nor the executions
shown on TV. But forgetting becomes my new
art form. Expressing myself as an experiment.

For our own good to be here.

Goo goo gaa gaa

Staring lost at the mirror of saliva,
the world continues in the passages,
the chair with the older questions.
Where freedom ends at the elevator
with its special code. To protect a world.

They are no longer in use.

No wrinkles

My fingers have always been important.
No longer. They won’t get tired and
old, and people will ask me what the secret is.
Of course I can’t help them. Secrets are hidden
between mash, peas, burn in a candle’s flame.

What is it about every day?

No don’t say

On this day the candles in the chapel
look less than a promise. More a doormat
with instructions in a foreign language.
Daylight, darkness, the blessings are confused,
somehow seem to need money, assistance.

They clean what I have made dirty.

Between this and that

Strangers look and make sounds. They touch me,
hold my hand. I have never said I was a guide.
All I know is that a horse is a path to the grave.
Cheap ashes beneath cheaper flowers, useless
flowers, lots of puss in a bed, my name on my anus.

And so we come together, no talking.

The same boat

A brutal gale-force makes me
follow the sandy path leading to
the red boat, mast and boom white.
People huddle together. I join.
We start rowing, slaves and flies.

I guess we are prepared.

Sharp tongue gone

My feet have been washed.
Where are the screams coming from?
If I ask or not, someone will take me there
to look, take part, a warrior, my face pushed
into the sand, the sharp tongue now black and blunt.

Time is where the sun always shines.

Talk loving crap/truth

It doesn’t matter what time it is. Someone asked me.
It doesn’t matter. They come or stay away. Do you
want to catch a bus? There are no buses arriving here
in the sitting room. You have a watch! You don’t know?
It is getting serious now. Someone will come and get you.

I entered the kingdom of angelic hot nurses and nasty oldies.

Good girl

They put the TV on. Are you gonna sit? Let’s all go sit.
This is the guitar player, see the guitar? Tell her to shut up.
Tell the old crow! What else you expect me to say?
I will be her father after the guitar, who ever she thinks I am.
O sheez she forgot. Who is playing?

There was a time when I had time. Now busy.

Only the best

I worked at this grand place and they didn’t hire just
anyone. Only the best. I knew what I was doing. I was
like that tree by the parking, autumn, spring, brown leaves, green.
Then the doctor became sentimental and I caught the gist
of his story. This place needs me. They only want the best.

Okay then but a quick look and that’s it.

Caught in a skull

The sun has a lot of explaining to do;
all these lit faces buried in their brains,
a strange shaped moon with craters, pockfaced.
They circled around it with scans, but no landing.
How to leave a small-brained room without weeping?

Room with a view.

Moon faces

I don’t know if it is an entrance or an exit.
Sometimes furniture moves in and furniture
moves out. They wait till after supper which
makes us tired, sleepy, and then they abduct
those who we don’t know in a black van.

I held my breath, life shooting past.


When I saw these small rocks just under
the water’s surface of the fast flowing river
it reminded me of us, life shooting past,
over us, rocks going nowhere, just existing,
trying not to think about the shotgun.

Part of my planet is lost, now into space.


Stay a bit longer, it’s snowing, it’s hot. Don’t get lost.
 When you leave I want to sit in your chair,
feel your body warmth as long as I sit.
Before I go to bed I put a plant on the seat.
Then I know you have gone.

Another sweet volunteer.


You have been here and I hope you will come back.
You are a beautiful young woman and I wonder why
you visit me. A student in need of money? It doesn’t
matter. I love your presence, The sad love in your eyes.
But why the tears when I asked your name?

Together, on our way.


I hold your hands, the hands that hold me.
From now on it is loss, the fallen fellow travelers.
We are not alone, the fires burn as we let go of hands
in slow mo, then we limp or wheel forwards
and face the dementia canon as free fodder.

It spreads to the left and right.


What about the others, what about me?
Those at the front sometimes come back,
briefly with frozen faces close to hell,
outnumbered, they see hell in the eyes
of their loved ones, and a fire, growing.

I surrender to my Queen and her knowledge.


I have slivers when the clouds part,
the sun loves, words sharp.
And o my happiness it is time to meet my queen,
my diamond daughter next to her.
Inside my heart they help it beat.

How the hell do you do that? Saying goodbye?

Paper words

 We will never know how to say goodbye,
our lack of eternity evident, our dreaming
of loving, holding, hanging in a cupboard.
Now it is too late. The voice has turned to paper.
Paper a voice not ready at all to say goodbye.


Cave painting

These clear eyes will be blind, see
the wildest dreams, hunting deer,
their flesh sweet between my molars.

That is how darkness will settle upon
my cornea, devouring the invisible world,
curtains rising, opening fear and the wolf

defending soil and brown leaves, my feet
amazed by their slow response, giving time
to death, to insert its hands deep into rib cage,

a child’s drawing glowing with fury.

Old timer

The knife cuts and cuts, sometimes sliding
smoothly over the bone, the white majestic
beauty once growing like a sequoia held firmly

by muscles, now dreaming about afterbirth,
the skin the boundary, where my physical life
grew callous to protect the secret flower,

the product of my mother, failed, put aside.
And this old timer was a gift as well, the classic car
in its stone dry garage, a hand draped over the paint

as if stolen from time, my time and my ruins.


A walking stick makes sure I can keep on
licking the earth’s salt, eyes swaying like a ship’s
horizon, the old B&W TV’s circuit failing, flickering

more and more along the way. I must protect
myself against an eager wind, present or not.
Before you know it you are full of feeding tubes,

draining, staring through the red birth windows,
following the straight line back to the child, wearing
me out. And bunny travels to the butcher,

starting to hate my parents again.

Thousand ways

My ears useless, inedible.
They are also selfish, the ears, only
receiving, not giving, ignoring you,

not a tear in the dry guts.
Then that strange protein ticking
‘tween ears, nerves, damn it all

how I feel the constant eradication,
how it works, isolates, detaches, disconnects, separates –
how it slaps you in the face like a drunken bastard,

a thousand ways to make a child crawl and cry, and hear.

Open road

When they open me up they can check
the counter, how many miles, years
have been taken away from me, others;

when I am gone they are gone, out
of my eyes, theirs, a blank piece of paper
which can be filled with photo’s, stories,

the presence of some new people
liking the words I dropped along the
way. The more potholes and cracks

in the road the more can be found.


There is this difference between one
and the other, between them and me.
So what is this difference about then?

Am I different but on the same stage?
Or am I on a different stage, others looking?
Or am I on a summer camp and cry with a

fishing rod in my hands because there’s
a fish hanging from the hook? It jerks.
If it could it would bang its head on a table.

It can’t, it is hanging from my hook.

Nice house

Sometimes I stretch out my hand, trying to
hold on to the cloud, fog, then it changes
to cotton wool, meaning I can hold it

so it will not be in front of my eyes, blocking. Or
I can think of something else, put aside
whatever I forgot. The people here are nice,

the woman. She sleeps here too and must have
experience. I know that they don’t get paid
that well, that it’s a labor of love because they

treat me here, in their nice house, like family.

Quite a situation

The mouth uses the brain and the brain the mouth.
The brain is a faulty piece of equipment.
It says stuff and dust and swears and angers.

There are roadblocks slowing down the traffic
and the policeman in his confusion jumps into the sea
because the sea knows what it does with

its currents, fish and seaweed like hair and it has the door to
the wondrous world of seeing and falling and we can’t know
everything, you don’t, I don’t so what part of the house is yours

and what, I mean, what is ahead of us? Another word.


Will it ever make sense, being overpowered, or
is it just an army of skin and teeth listening
to a lack, of what we lost along the way?

With our hands in our grubby pockets we dirty
soldiers have lost our morale, changed our
face for a leather mask, a never ending march

through a dripping autumn forest, brown
leaves clinging to boots and knees, then the path
changing direction to an unknown area. We have never

seen the map, but seem to know about it.

Oil filter

I have found an open road, moving
and moving, not recognizing stop signs or
finding the what’s it - the brake. I use the

ignition but the engine is already running
so I bugger up the starter, me very slowly
falling forward, head first into the engine compartment.

I can hear the wings of the irreplaceable
brain against the camshaft cover, sounding
like a sort of sobbing, but you wouldn’t know,

how much blood an oil filter can hold.


My pill alarm goes off. It goes. It goes.
What was I doing? Empty Google search box.
I am staring at the palm of my hand. There

should be something there, a watch, information,
but it has lines and I must cut my nails.
They might take some blood again, losing leaves.

Then I wait, what happens, if they sucked up
some illusions, people, if I constantly circle
around the big nothing like a cranium bone saw.

The empty brain cavity a deserted death row cell.

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Joop Bersee was born in the Netherlands in 1958. From 1989 to 1996 he lived in Cape Town, South Africa, where he began writing poetry in English. In 1996 he returned to the Netherlands. He was the founder and editor of ‘Southern Rain Poetry’, an online anthology of South African poetry from 2003 until 2009. His work has been published online, in magazines, journals and anthologies in several countries including South Africa, England, Wales, Canada, USA, Ireland, Brazil and India (in a Malayalam translation). In 2011 he was one of the winning poets of the Dalro Award in South Africa (second prize). A number of his publications are in the collection of the National English Literary Museum in Grahamstown, South Africa.