When the Ambulance Arrived

A collection of poems by Lawrence “Mack in Texas” Hall (Rated PG)


Visiting a Friend in His Hospital Room
For Tod

So there you were with a tube in your arm
And a crossword puzzle and pen in your hands
And a lovely view of a sunlit roof
With windblown debris whipping between the vents

An assembly of physicians in conclave met
At the foot of your bed to discuss your future
One of them but a face on a telescreen –
One thinks of The Head in That Hideous Strength

I think of you comfortably back home tonight
An ikon (and a brandy) on the table beside you


When the Ambulance Arrived

When the ambulance arrived the medics
Pushing and pulling the gurney in and out
Knocked the latch from the jamb, which no one noticed
But later someone else found the door open

I walked across the road with a bag of tools
And fixed the latch with a couple of screws
Easily enough, a wooden door that opened
To Christmases and homecomings and life

The door is now secure, but I don’t think
The owner will ever walk through it again


Anticipating a Root Canal Tomorrow

Sometimes you don’t need anesthetics to be goofy –
Anticipating a trip to the dentist will do
To confuse today’s plans into nothingness
And scatter all focus from a favorite book

People have such dentistry every day
You tell yourself, only your self is not listening
Should I go to bed early, or get up late
What will it be like in The Chair tomorrow?

A sigh, a whisper, a desperate wheeze –
Just a little more nitrous oxide, please!


Aspirin as One of the Basic Food Groups

An inhaler for each wheezery lung
Aspirin for the pain that has gone to my head
Gargle for the gunk that’s coating my tongue
Green slime by the cup when I go to bed

Whatever it’s all from – dust, must, or mold
I just wanna be rid of this miserable cold!


Cardiac Clinic Consulting Room

One’s bubble goes off-bubble a few degrees
For now there is nothing to do but sit and wait
No longer in control of anything
“Is there in your family any history of…?”

Pleasant young people in scrubs come and go
With papers and charts and machines that buzz
And in between the book is open but unread
While silent morning light filters across the walls

The doctor enters with paperwork and optimism:
There are still possibilities in life


A Cold Call from the Hearing-Aid Place

A cold call from the hearing-aid center
I heard the young nice lady perfectly


A Loss of Vision for a Season
As we grow older we grow honester,
that’s something.
-Yevtushenko, “Zima Junction”

I drove a friend to his ophthalmologist
When I walked him into the office
He could perceive only light and shadow
After we left, some four hours later

He could read the fine print on his McDonald’s coffee cup

Miracle. Laser surgery. Miracle.

The McDonald’s was our third place to try
For coffee; the first two chains were empty and wrecked
Lake Charles is still a mess after hurricane-curses
This summer, with wreckage everywhere, street signs gone

Houses blasted and empty, shops blasted and empty
Work crews along some streets, silence along others

There is at least one good this day:

That my dear friend has his vision again


Death of Our Old Hippie Truck Driver

For Brian, of Happy Memory
“For every star that falls to earth a new one glows.
For every dream that fades away a new one grows.”
-Rod McKuen

Suddenly there was cancer eating away
At what was left of his star and his dreams
That second star to the right was suddenly closer
And we can’t know what that far shore is like

But he had often seen the rainbow’s end
Shining across the windshield of his rig
Over his mountains and his magic lands
Interstates according to Peter Max

For years he rolled to the beat of ‘68 –
No more runs, now; his logbook’s up to date


Teeth are Curious Constructions

Molars for grinding
Bicuspids behinding
Incisors for wheat
Canines for meat
And for all your teeth
Above or beneath
Keep them neat
For kisses sweet!


On the Occasion of Being Scanned by an Electro-Mechanical Device

The room is softly lit, like a Star Trek Set
Mostly pale, indirect blues, occasional pinks
A large circle, like a mechanical god
Appears to be a portal spinning through time

DO NOT LOOK INTO THE RED LIGHT

The machine slides me into itself
And commands me in a soothing plastic voice
“Take a deep breath and hold it.”
[Pause]

DO NOT LOOK INTO THE RED LIGHT

“Breathe normally.”
[Pause]
“Take a deep breath and hold it.”
[Pause]

“Breathe normally.”

DO NOT LOOK INTO THE RED LIGHT

But breathe

Breathe


Edgar Allan Poe Takes a Selfie and I Take an Antihistamine

Quoth the critic:
No one’s ravin’ y’know
Something about a bird – maybe a crow?
Lenore married a physicist on the go
Plutonium shore, not Plutonian (oh!)

Quoth the critic:
No more her beau
She kept the cage, but gave the bird to Poe
Anyway, the scientist’s name is Moe
She says his nuclear fission makes her glow

Quoth the critic:
Let’s end this show
(Antihistamines – I shoulda said no)
(‘Choo!)


Picking up a Box at the Nursing Home

In a cardboard box: a Rosary, glasses
A change of clothes, a pair of shoes, some socks
The miscellaneous bits and bobs of life
At the end of it

The nurses’ aide says she will pray for him
And probably she will; she seems nice
And truly everyone has been nice but now
It’s time to go

Some of the staff are on a cigarette break
On picnic benches out front – life goes on


Dentistry Again

Anaesthesia slowly passing from me
Dragging the pain of yesterday along
The muffled echoings of imaginings
Colliding with synapses in the dark

Thinking little beyond a coffee cup
And less upon the pages of a book
With thoughts all scrambled the pages back
And through vague eyes into my foggy brain

How difficult to force even a clumsy rhyme
This ordinary Tuesday in ordinary time


Yeah, Well, You Know Where You Can Shove It, Pal

To a carpenter every problem looks like a nail
To a proctologist…

The End

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