The Women of Victoria Ward

Muriel Murch

I remember 
The women of Victoria Ward.

The laughter of Liz,
before there were good prostheses
before falsies
left, right or bilateral
were built into the cup size of your choice.
Pacing the corridors
and knitting.
Ready to go home.
Building her strength
with a strand of yarn 
Tumbled upwards from the empty cup
against that scarlet scar
beneath the bodice 
of her bright summer dress.

I remember 
Winnie’s eyes
watching feces pour
in a torrent
down her abdomen
searing her flesh
until I bathed her body
changed the bed
and wiped away
her

Read More »

Apologies

Alex Okun

You were right.
That IV was no good.
Looking at his arm all swollen like that,
I thought, “That says it all.”

I’m sorry we kept bothering you.
“Please don’t wake him for vitals,”
You told us.

Sometimes we don’t see the signs.

I was hoping she would stay home longer,
That you would have had more time together.
She liked starting school every September.
She loved that backpack.

I’m sorry it always took so long
To get into the room.
I’m sorry I took so long to call you back.
I liked our

Read More »

Tree Years

Addeane Caelleigh

We used to trade off, 
she said.

He hated trees dying in our living room. 
I always loved the blue spruces
decorated on my December birthday

But his father fell near theirs
dying in their living room
one childhood night. 

So we’d have a year with tangled lights, a crooked stand
he sometimes helped me put together
Then a year with presents stacked on the corner table,
with no dry needles to sweep.

Turn and turn again
a solstice pendulum.
A ring for each alternating year

That was before the fog that eats my

Read More »

Running Out of Metaphors

Howard F. Stein

His rapidly metastasizing cancer
was not his only problem:
He was not only running out
of life, he was running out of metaphors.
Metaphors had sustained him
for the four months since
they discovered the spot.
He started out 
losing weight as “The Incredible 
Shrinking Man”; then he became
Gregor Samsa for a while;
briefly he was the consumptive Violetta,
soon followed by Ivan Ilych.
He even remembered Susan Sontag 
and Solzhenitsyn and so railed
at his wasting. He leaped
from metaphor to metaphor the way
a stone skips over water. He asked

Read More »

little black boy

Jimmy Moss

little black boy
sit down.
fold your hands into your lap
and put your lap into order
now cry me a little song.
sing me a little note about me 
caring about what you care about,
then dream me a little dream.
and when your tears turn into
oases and exposed rivers
stand up
and pour me a little cup
fill it with every broken promise
and the unfulfilled moments of
belated birthdays and first days
of the school year when your
clothes were unkempt…then
tell me a little secret
about how–you wish your

Read More »

In the Taxi to the MRI

Rachel Hadas

I try to concentrate on the weather. Everything
deliquesces into simile.
Sleet ticks onto the windshield like a clock.
Truth blinks on/off like a stuck traffic signal.
It is better to live in the light but the light is flickering.
Anything more than the truth would have seemed too weak-
Poetic paradox understood too late
or maybe just in time. What time is it?
A small white poodle in a quilted coat
lifts a leg to pee against a hydrant
on Sixtieth Street, and we are nearly there,
early, of course. And since (she

Read More »

Rx

 Veneta Masson

Politicians…were quick to rise to the defense 

of a particularly vulnerable population. As a group, 
dual-eligibles [Medicare-Medicaid] have incomes below 
the poverty rate…and take an average of 15 medications a day.

 

Washington Post
January 14, 2006

 

This is how it works: 
as wealth trickles down 
to the poor and old 
it turns into pills.

 

So M and S, their slender portfolios 
long since depleted, can still
compete for bragging rights.
I take twenty a day, says M.
Ha! counters S, I take so many
they had to put in a port.

 

G presides

Read More »

Antibodies

Shanna Germain

At twenty, I started working the HIV
ward, midnight to morning. Left my husband
sleeping, mouth-open to the air, to 
drive through the dark body of the city. 

Every shift, the warning about infections.
Me sliding on booties, disposable 
gown and gloves. Even through the mask,
you could smell decay, the way viruses 

swept through bodies. I did what was needed: 
held hands through double-gloves, took blood 
or confessions when I could, told off-white lies 
to thin cracked lips that knew the truth.

Once, a year or so into it, I stuck 
myself,

Read More »

Physician’s Exasperation

Howard F. Stein

We know so much about you–
Your blood, your urine, your internal organs.
We can see everything.
There is precious little that
Is not wrong with you medically.
Still, you do not listen to us.
You miss appointments;
You don’t go to referrals we’ve made.
Do you defy us or merely not understand
How dire your condition is?
You could die at any time,
We have told you more than once.
Still, you muddle along as if all we know
Does not matter. Tell me, what
Is missing from our story?
Have

Read More »

Scroll to Top