“In the Quiet Room,” “Watching Her Niece Marry Jesus in the ‘60s” and “Sirens Howling Overhead”

“In the Quiet Room,” “Watching Her Niece Marry Jesus in the ‘60s” and “Sirens Howling Overhead”

Photo by Marcelo Leal on Unsplash

In the Quiet Room

I walk back from intensive care,

automatically shuffle for solitaire

and report the numbers to siblings

as I try to deal:

pressure urine cc’s and temp,

peeling off the first three cards

and nothing changing.

Tubes everywhere

down from the bottles

up from the bags;

they disappear inside the bed

and emerge from mouth nose

chest gut and bladder.

Kidneys swim in backwash;

the body swells with the tide of infection;

pale fluid seeps from arms.

They make us wash our hands

each time we leave his room.

Dad, you are their giant filter:

they are trying to percolate

the life inside you; but death is a sponge

and too soon gets the final cleaning.

Watching Her Niece Marry Jesus in the ‘60s

The novitiates line up, a mass wedding

of young girls arranged on the one hand (of God)

by parents and church elders, and on the other

in white satin dresses and veils

prepped as if for a degas painting

to receive a simple gold band and cowl

and agree at this service to a life of service.

Though I’m told Jesus is

a realistic Spouse and won’t ask of you

anything you can’t give Him or do for Him;

like a lot of husbands, He

may never speak directly to His wives again,

though require their constant

obedience and quite frequent

begging for His forgiveness.

Remember, supplicants, such vows bind eternally,

and this witness protection program requires

a change of name (taking a man’s saintly first name),

clothing that hides any scent

of individual identity, and many switches

in future location. Furthermore,

forevermore in this Man’s army,

no whimpering is tolerated

once you wear the wimple. And no whispers

allowed after vespers,

which might only lead to chaos

within His religious order

and veiled threats of damnation.

Sirens Howling Overhead

the house suddenly empty

wife and children running

down the basement steps

escaping fleeting pockets

of sheering high and low pressure

one last glimpse of home

from the door cracked ajar

the slash of maroon coat caught

in the shuddering closet door

torn window screens

the clouds changing like ivy

from green to rose to brown

uprooted when the deafening

local train of violence touches down

afterwards blossoms still on the branches

the chickens survived though stripped of feathers

overturned couches and chairs

the cat food still in the bowl

four steak knives in a perfect square pattern

driven into the mom-van’s radiator

the truck’s disappeared

and up through the trees

slices of blue

through the foliage

the ground soft and sunken

flecks of roofing

glittering beneath puddles

and the rain dripping down stunned faces

and the hail of chaotic debris

of cancelled checks, curling

photographs, dirty magazines,

loose change, torn t-shirts,

cracked tv and a favorite recliner

landing in dad’s new apartment

eighty miles away

About the Author

David Goodrum

Born, raised, and educated in Indiana, David A. Goodrum lives in Oregon. His poems are forthcoming or have been published in Spillway, New Plains Review, The Nebraska Review, The Louisville Review, Gryphon, Windfall, and other journals.

Read more work by David Goodrum.