Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998
In ICU, they pump me full of sundry drugs
and Prednisone to save my life—
pneumonia’s advancing in both my lungs;
fluid builds like tsunamis follow
an earthquake’s rupture of the land.
Four physicians comb my charts,
try every path, and shake their heads.
This “medicine” called Prednisone
clearly wins conundrum of the century—
it saves and pillages with every dose.
I turn into a lunatic trying to maintain control.
My truths are maniacal nightmares
jolting me wide awake from tiny increments of sleep.
In one, my father’s head is wrapped
in coarse white gauze, cutting off his air supply.
Another crazy episode, my mother
(dead and buried for 52 years)
is alive and intent on saving me,
breathing in this abject terror,
exhaling composure and faith—
the reverse of secondhand smoke.
Macabre art lines the walls; each visage
stings my eyes like pepper blowing from a fan.
When my voice is finally back,
nurses and aides humor my insanity,
promising the "FBI" is on their way
to check for poison in the food.
Concrete truths are catheters,
a feeding tube, breathing machines;
IV strings in a tragic crochet; my wrists in straps
shackled to the rails of my bed.
I'd kill a cute white rabbit for a chip of ice.
One minute I'm dozing off;
the next I'm certain
they've packed up my things and I'm opening up
a stack of ads from funeral homes;
prices are so heinously high,
I'll settle for ashes and Tupperware.
Janet Buck is a seven-time Pushcart Nominee. Her poetry has appeared in 2River View, Offcourse, The Pedestal Magazine, and hundreds of journals worldwide. Janet's second print collection of poetry, Tickets to a Closing Play, was the winner of the 2002 Gival Press Poetry Award and her third collection, Beckoned By The Reckoning, was released by PoetWorks Press in the spring of 2004.