Poetry Drawer: In The ICU: Lakefront Property: Prognosis by Robert Demaree

In The ICU

Before surgery
It had not occurred to me
To tell the church,
Have them put it in the bulletin,
Make an announcement
On Sunday morning.
But the day after,
On a brief, tentative
Supervised stroll around the ICU
I happened to see our pastor
There to visit a parishioner
Who would not be going home.
Don came to my room
And we visited a while,
And he offered to say a prayer
(Like a good lawyer, I thought,
Representing your interests in court).
And when he prayed,
He did not say
Be with Bob as he heals
But rather he spoke of the goodness
Of the world and life God has given us,
Which sounds like good theology to me,

But with the other family, though,
He may have used
A different text.

Lakefront Property

The forty-pound kayak
Slices across the pond
To inspect new construction
At Caleb’s old place.
A woman on a paddle board
Passes across my bow,
No lifejacket.
She could have had three kayaks
For what she paid,
Latest fad born of
That unholy marriage of
Marketing and design:
People will buy it
Because they can.

The framing is up.
Already there’s a Seadoo on the dock.
Caleb had hoped someone
Would restore his parents’ house.
Columns for a gated drive
Have replaced the old colonial
Where he grew up,
Facing South Main Street,
When this was another kind of town.


My friend, seventy-six,
Three years my junior,
Had been for his annual check-up.
The doctor asked if he had
A living will.
Did she mean anything by that,
I wondered. My friend,
Professor and poet,
Knows what John Donne knew,
And Shakespeare,
That we will encounter darkness like a bride
And hug it in our arms,
And, with Billy Collins, regards
Poetry as “a megaphone
Held up to the whispering lips of death.”

Try telling poets
No more poems about death
And they’re out of business.
I read the obit page,
I know the facts, see what happens,
But I’m not buying it.

Robert Demaree is the author of four book-length collections of poems, including Other Ladders, published in 2017 by Beech River Books. His poems have received first place in competitions sponsored by the Poetry Society of New Hampshire and the Burlington Writers Club. He is a retired school administrator with ties to North Carolina, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire. Bob’s poems have appeared in over 150 periodicals including Cold Mountain Review and Louisville Review.

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