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Poetry

Spring 2017 Contest Winner: Alan Dennis Harris

Harris

Alan Dennis Harris is a hospice volunteer and graduate student who helps hospice patients write memoirs, letters, and poetry. Harris is the recipient of the 2014 John Clare Poetry Prize as well as the 2015 Tompkins Poetry Award from Wayne State University. Harris is a two-time Pushcart nominee. His work has recently appeared in The Lake, Poetry Breakfast and The Great Lakes Review.

Waiting for something to happen

There you are in the hospice bed
wondering if anyone really knows
when it all comes to an end
you thought you did but you don’t
they gave you six months
that’s what the referring physician
stated in writing
that’s when the Medicare reimbursement
runs out

if you live any longer
whether you like it or not
you do so knowing
. . . number one
you’ve proven your doctor wrong
again
. . . and number two
the hospice is taking care of you
for free

Unless there is a miraculous
recovery
which never happens
your time above ground
is more limited than it was before
before the doctor got ahead of himself
before the insurance revenue stream dried up
before your friends and relatives stopped calling
because they figured you’d be gone by now

So you wait for something to happen
you up your liquid morphine
you listen to your favorite music
you touch faces in old photos
of those who can still stir memories
despite the medication
and you wonder was it all worth it
and you wonder what’s next
and you wonder if you’re already gone

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