Porch Swing Spell

Porch Swing

Back and forth, I swing

as the air pulses with ambient noise.

The leaves sway (a metronome) and

their tempo moves as slowly as

the lake that winds

away from me.


The lethargy from the humidity

holds me in place

like the ancient boulder in the front yard—

my own “stargazing rock.”

It’s a point fixed in the earth—

a still witness

to the repetitive pursuits

of the sun and moon.


There’s a peaceful familiarity

in the sound of the swing creaking.

It makes me remember glimpses of

fuzzy memories

in a handed down rocking chair.


My bare feet

gently dust across the porch,

pushing back and forth.


Encounter with Death in a Hallway

(This poem is in honor of my friend’s grandmother who has a knack for walking silently and scaring her granddaughter because of it)


Grandmother. She walks like death.

She could slip past the

Reaper and he wouldn’t hear.

The reticence of her steps

lets her

sneak around,

traveling the opposite direction,

without me noticing

as I drift towards the kitchen.

Ten out of twelve steps

to the kitchen,

down the hallway’s

(perfectly dusted)

hardwood floors—

on autopilot—I shift

to turn right through

the kitchen doorway.

Blindsided by Grandmother.

Almost colliding with her,

the sudden flash of her

pink blouse and

white hair is

abrupt and


scaring me to my bones.

I jump

out of my skin!


then laughter splits our silence.

“Always watch the corners,”

she giggles her old saying to me

with a placating hug

as usual.

I have never fully grasped her

art for stealth;

only hoped for a future when

I can surprise

my own grandchildren

with the same mastery.

Chuckling, she pads away,

her house shoes

as quiet as death.


Vital Signs

You are composed of

a series of beeps and wavy lines

on a screen.


You have grown accustomed to

the fact that even when you’re stationary

you’re like a rippling pond.


Every time someone walks through

your borrowed door, the little

pulsations speed up slightly.


And, when you sigh, or when you’re snoring,

every line gets incrementally slower

as the numbers count down.


A big breath in for the lukewarm

stethoscope pressing to your chest

materializes as a cresting swell.


You play games

just to pass the time:

how can you manipulate these figures?


But, you say, it’s most comforting

to see the middle-ness.

You don’t get too high or too low.


A nurse explained the sum of you:

respiration, heart rate, and

at least two other terms


you can’t remember.

Isn’t it funny how simple you are

and how fragile—


how everyone here doesn’t see

you except

as some beeps and wavy lines?



Hospital Stay

from a coffee shop in Southside

I have logged more hours

than I could ever want

in this hospital

over the past weeks.

The smell of it

even follows me home, like…

a stray animal slinking through my

front door.

I find it amusing, when I cautiously float through

the maze of hallways

(floor two to main elevators,

main elevators to floor four—

or was it five?), that

they’ve tried to mask the antiseptic with innocent smells

like vanilla and berry

(and something citrusy?).

“It works for the most part,”

I assure my mother.

But I won’t say that sometimes it does little to stop: the

tightening in my chest,

my hands growing cold,

my head feeling swimmy,

still experiencing

that elevator sensation:

like the floor’s bouncing

—not anchored—

and just as likely to carry me

safely to my destination

as it is to fall

slamming into the earth

(the safety certificate posted above the buttons

expired last year?).

I reach my destination,

but I am not prepared for what’s there.

So, I practically run away from the ICU

and all the other rooms with

too many tubes

and wires

and needles

and strained respiration.

I attempt to ground myself by generating rhymes

(hallways, always, stall a ways?)

but then the only words I have are words like:



orange                                          (and month?).


Until I get to the coffee shop,

(toffee stop, money drop, caramel-macchiato-for-me pops?)


where, for a while


I forget the hospital smell,


and stop the obsessive flipping through

social media and countless open tabs as a distraction.


I just sip my coffee with my mother


talking about anything else in the world

(maybe about the frazzled, red-haired lady

who stabbed the up and down buttons

exactly 14 times each;

or the man who conned my grandmother

out of three bucks for “parking”

in the SICU waiting room?)

anything other than Dad being hooked up to a hospital bed.


The Shop

photo taken in Eleuthera, Bahamas


The broken concrete floors reveal to me

the place’s age that musty smell proudly

seems to assert. The scents of the cigars

unsmoked and of the wooden shavings tossed

across the floor absorbing oil, or

another type of liquid remnant, fill

my lungs. The grit and grease beneath my shoes—

familiar—a sensation I recall

from fixing Fords and Chevys in summers

past. The place feels so empty now. I see

King Edward boxes full of screws and chips

of faded counter samples long out of

production. A small token honoring

the craftsman that my father used to be.

A smile tugs at my mouth, my kids use these

as toys now. Scattered by the dusty panes,

the light seems source-less, glows and bounces off

the white ambient walls, revealing dark

and rusty corners harsh in rival view.

Above all else, I savor treasured time

in here—the place where Dad could fix it all.