"In November 2013 my husband, John Coates, fell ill with a mysterious disease. Its symptoms included sudden loss of memory, seizures, hallucinations and delusions. After four months this was diagnosed as a rare form of auto-immune encephalitis (VGKC) and after medication started he began to improve. Luckily, it is possible to recover completely from this particular encephalitis and this has happened. John is well again. These poems and nine others were written after he started to respond to the medication. They were published as a pamphlet Crazy Days by Wayleave Press". Carol Coates

Carol Ann Duffy, the Poet Laureate, who has known John for many years, said of the pamphlet “It’s one of the best things I’ve read all year”.     

Crazy Days 7

"What can I do with a man whose half-hour memory

bewilders us both?  I’ve stopped saying

do you remember,  because the rind of sadness

forming round you thickens every time you say no

and I can’t imagine what it’s like to be you

stalled in a short-term world of no conclusions.


So we try the Museum, away from the wind

and the bitter sky.  You used to love this place

and now you look at every tableau, read each notice,

examine how a patch of earth and rock became

a settlement, a fort, a town, a city and this will be

forgotten, this will be erased, before you leave.


You stop in a trench with the King’s Own Regiment,

their Great War dugout.  You watch an officer

transfixed among sandbags.  He’s not writing

with the pen he holds, those reports he’ll never

send. That enamel mug of tea he’ll never drink.

This is a moment stilled and always happening.


At lunch you suddenly say I’ve got to get back now.

I’ve got to give that lecture and you name a place

you used to teach in forty years ago.  But you’re retired 

I say.  But how?  What’s happening to me? 

and, like a child, you fall asleep,

pudding half-eaten, spoon clutched in your hand"


The pamphlet can be bought for £5, either from [email protected]  or from Wayleave Press