“NEW” POEMS FOR WAGBLOG

These are admittedly older poems once-published, but they are the best I can offer at the moment for the reasons I explained, that contests and publications insist that any poem one sends to them never have appeared anywhere else before, including on the internet. Needless to say this is a major bummer, since my blog can hardly count as publication nor pose as wide distribution, seeing as how I get maybe 100 hits max a day (mark you, all, including you, my loyal lurkers, are oh so valuable to me, and if you remain my site’s only visitors, so be it. At least you are there and if so, that will be enough for me.)

The first poem describes a real, which is to say, factual incident that happened to me some years ago, while the second concerns, as may be obvious, a complete fantasy, but one embedded in the real  exercise of learning CPR. I describe it literally, as it was taught back in the 80s without so much as a dummy to practice on. I will continue to add others, either at the end or later, if I can find others that have already been published, or that I am certain I will not try for. For now, I hope these have some merit, despite their age.

POEM FOR REGINALD

It is winter, four o’clock in the afternoon.

A drunk, not yet dead on his feet,

accosts me, says,

“Hey, are you a college girl?”

I am not a student anymore—

It has been years since I went by bells

from room to room,

scribbled frantic exams

in booklets bound in blue.

I look young, I know that. My hair is not

yet gray, and perhaps that is why

he asks the question.

“I read books, too,” he tells me,

falling into step beside me

though he had met me coming the opposite way

and I am hurrying to be out of Dutch Point by nightfall.

He walks me all the way up to Main Street.

accompanying me through the backyards of tenements

past lounging men who might have wished me

less than well.

Though he insists on staying on my right side

like a gentleman, some primitive fear

urges me to shift my purse

to my left shoulder.

He is a genius he tells me, and I believe him

But he is an alcoholic and his breath smells

as if he has been drinking.

Still, I am not afraid of him

and when he asks, I tell him my name.

There is something sad about him.

He says he thinks I can cure him,

could marry him.

His name is Reginald.

He speaks like an old friend

and suddenly I am lonely too.

That is all. There is no moral to this tale.

I am thirty-five, single, childless, and lonely as a drunk

offering me company at Christmastide.

We come to my building. He leans closer.

When he hugs me

I hold on tight.

ON LEARNING CPR, 1986

So many things can go wrong

and it is surely a wonder

we live at all.

Playing dead, my partner, my spouse

does not answer when I

jostle him at the shoulder

speak his name

and I in more terror

than my own body needs

this being a dry run

and he healthy as apples.

But he has taken on

the “death-like appearance”

necessary for this role

and I must act,

pretending dexterity and expertise

when my own heart

threatens to shudder and fail

if I can’t get it right.

According to the booklet

the Red Cross has given us,

brain damage occurs

after four minutes without

oxygen. It is up to me.

And so I do as I must,

feigning compressions of his chest

making his heart beat for me

at the rhythm I choose.

I scarcely brush his lips

with my own in pretended ventilation,

but breathe on his cheek

and scout his chest

for  signs of life returning

So much I have taken for granted—

I am scared by the awful fragility

in the balance of one life before me.

Then miraculously, he revives.

I can see his chest rise and fall.

I feel a pulse in his neck

and moist air on my cheek and ear.

“Thanks, love,” he whispers,

with a smile no one else sees

and sits up.

It is over.

But tonight while he sleeps

I will count his breaths.

I will touch the pulse in his neck

gently, gently. I will know

the miracle when I see it.

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