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Tuesday, March 31, 2009


by Steve Hellyard Swartz

The article said the nursing home has 112 beds
With an Alzheimer’s unit
My father died of Alzheimer’s
He had Parkinson’s first and then he got worse
I used to visit him and he’d kind of grumble a little when I said
Hi, Dad
He’d grumble not like he knew me but like what I was doing to the morning sun
Was bothering him
He’d grumble, my Dad
And, his hand shaking, point at something – not at me, at something past me, how far past I never knew
When the gunman walked into the home past the healwoman and the healman and the sickmen and the sickwomen when the gunman began shooting the people at the nursing home in Carthage, N.C.
What did the Alzheimer’s patients see?
When my father was dying a nurse in hospice said we should keep talking to him
That he knew we were there
That his soul which was in transit
Still loved for us to visit
When the gunman shot the woman who was 98
What did the Alzheimer’s patients think?
Did they point their shaking fingers
The way my Dad pointed
A little past me
Or did they point
As the gunman did
Directly at what this life has come to be

Steve Hellyard Swartz is a regular contributor to new verse news. His poems have also appeared in best poem, switched-on gutenberg, Haggard and Halloo, and The Kennesaw Review. He has won honorable mention in The Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards (2007 and 2008), The Mary C. Mohr and the Anna Davidson Rosenberg Awards. In 1990, his film, Never Leave Nevada opened at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.