we re back in the e r
you couldn t breathe again
this time 3 am and your little
lungs straining for life and breath
your cough shook me from some dream
your eyes were desperate
yes son we re going
will i get a shot i don t want a shot daddy
no son you won t get a shot today
because i don t want a shot
the doctor will help you breathe son here hold my hand
and i won t get a shot

the white walls of the tiny room
are the same as they were five years ago
the time you stayed three days under a plastic canopy
i slept in a chair
friends brought food
nurses brought needles and tubes
and i find the same thing now
as i realized back then
you are stronger than i am


we wait for something to intervene,
anything to take away
this monotony of chaos. the pace
exhausts us to the point of mindless
motion. keep going. another step.
then unsettled sleep, for tomorrow
we begin again what never ends.
we long for the hand of god to lift
us from this routine of madness
when all along the slightest flicker
on the periphery is food
enough for the starving soul.

the coffin

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his eyes are fixed upon me,
envisioning the scene inside –
the darkness. the cold stale air.
her eyes sewn shut.
the subdued voices muffled
by this polished oak frame.

the winter is severe outside,
and snow covers the ground.
most of the family sits close to me
yet he stands just outside
the blue makeshift covering.
the wind wildly blows its fingers
through his white hair, stings his face,
and whispers past his perfect
handlebar mustache. but those eyes.

maybe he sees himself in here,
unwilling to step into a shelter
away from the relentless wind.


Words form slowly in winter
when wind blows rigid
branches in the first freeze.
White flakes gently fall
while the trees write stories
in the sky. My breath
sticks to a window warm
and gray where I trace words
from memory. They fade
into fog like passing thoughts,
beginning again the lonely scene.


* A revision of a poem written 20 years ago.