H o s p i t a l

We look down at
dumb magazines
or smart phones
While deep inside
panic zooms memory
down the halls
droning in our ears

We calculate our
luck infinitely
Constrict our
honeycombed throats
Emergency sirens
swarm outside
Claxons alarm us

Hearts in
the waiting room
enter pleas
with promises
and we sit here
guts strung out
on a sting

Hesitant and polite
we dance around
the obvious entrance
where fear and
faith are spoken
What becomes of
our beloved?

At this late hour
regrets cling like
pollen on bouquets
The janitor crosses
a shampooed carpet
to remove the
withered blossoms

Author: Mary Jo Malo

Christian, mother, grandmother, and poet of occasional worth.

31 thoughts on “H o s p i t a l”

  1. “Hearts in
    the waiting room
    enter pleas
    with promises
    and we sit here
    guts strung out
    on a sting”

    Oh, Mary Jo, you have captured the emotional angst of being in a hospital waiting room, the key word being “waiting.” Minutes become hours, our thoughts going back and forth from the past to the future as we envision, in the present moment, what tomorrow will bring. Everything seems out of sync. Your last image of a janitor crossing a shampooed carpet to remove withered blossoms was superb.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Rebecca. A hospital waiting room is a reluctant and brief community. In the wee hours, as strangers who briefly come together have mostly departed, the janitor removes the regrets of missed opportunity of strangers to share those moments. He functions as a type of ‘psychopomp’ for patients and visitors. I really appreciate your observation, since leaving the reader with a vivid image is something I value.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The phrase “At this late hour” has a poignant double meaning. I’m glad not to be sitting in that waiting room. Your poem reminds us that any of us could find ourselves there at any moment. I need that reminder from time to time. It’s too easy to take things for granted, even now.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thanks for your comments, Brad. Double meanings are a technique I often use, and there are several in this poem. The way you honor the past on your blog is a wonderful way to help us remember that those special or everyday moments which are captured for posterity–will someday be ours.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Dave, I appreciate your attention. That you feel I captured a traumatic experience in a powerful way is humbling. It’s not a happy poem, for sure. As Liz Gauffreau recently remarked in her interview with Rebecca Budd on her Tea, Toast & Trivia podcast, diving into the difficult work of creating literature helps with the grieving process.


    1. I’m deeply moved by your comments, Liz. When we read evocative words, it’s often like you said to Rebecca Budd, “How did you know?!” This poem in embryonic form was drafted over 15 years ago, so reworking and editing it this past week has yielded the reward of connection with readers I could never, ever imagined. Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Elisabeth! Thank you for reading and commenting. Atmosphere, thoughts and feelings are what literature is all about. You bring out these attributes in the Russian writers on your own blog. They have, and are still, connecting with readers and writers sharing these sensibilities.


  3. A beautiful poem and so true to the atmosphere of a hospital waiting room – there is just something so absurd and artificial about the whole set up of those waiting rooms. Every time I step into one, I feel in another world – a world you described so well.

    Liked by 1 person

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