Emergency Room

The receptionist is calm.

An old woman

is trying to vomit

behind a figured curtain.

A white wimpled nun

slides by

automatic door

closes without sound

against rubber bumpers.

Squeal of burned baby

rises to dog whistle soundlessness

behind another curtain.

Two security guards in tight Hessian blue,

pistols on hips,

walk around a supine third

who lies,

chest bare black against white bandages,

on cold chrome trolley

for x-rays.

It is 12:32 A. M.

and the doctor is explaining test results

to the ear

of a beige push-button phone.

Pain sits in straight-backed chairs,

crouches on couch cushions,

holds its guts

before ambulance entrance,

raves in a draped alcove,

waits to vanish

one way or another.


The man who had never eaten spaghetti,

hard to believe,

of course,

was nevertheless eager to try.

“How do you do it?” he said

to anyone willing to answer.

Ordinary to some,

it looked formidable to him,

strings coiled in whiteness

with blood sauce

like a tangle of tape worms.

Someone said around a smile,

wrap it in the tines,

twirl it to submission.

Cut it,

end to end,

another friend suggested

or just

suck it up.


Dog History

There is only pavement here.

Odors float, invisible cirrus,

from weeds in cracks

between stones or from dried urine

disappearing except to dog’s scent.

No dog is naked, although

unclothed they present

buttocks to the sun

and consider genitalia

of chance acquaintances.

Without past, each writes

present with raised leg

or natural squat tickled

by grass or capricious winds.

No heaven waits perfection of dogs

but other dogs

sniffing, running, eating.

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