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Tuesday, December 07, 2010


by Steve Hellyard Swartz

My mother fell in the bathroom and because she’d shattered her hip, the best she could do was to crawl back to the couch in the den

I think she probably went back to sleep, on the floor, which is where I found her

This is a story about meat, by the way, real meat, red meat, as in--

The newspapers she liked to read, by the couch which had become her bed, the newspapers red with blood, her blood

The newspapers and little Teddy Bear notepaper, the phone, and her pillow, all wet with blood and urine

She was confused, she didn’t think to call me, it was the middle of the night--

red meat time - the time when old people bleed on the floor, bleed and pee, confused, spent, gone as far as they’re gonna get, hugging the legs of couches and chairs, two o’clock in America, red meat time, real meat time, finger-poppin’, heart-stoppin’ time

Today I read that former Senator Alan Simpson is saying that he can’t wait for

April, when the debt limit comes up for a vote again

“I can’t wait for the blood bath in April. . . . When debt limit time comes, they’re going to look around and say, ‘What in the hell do we do now?”

When I came over and found my mother on the floor she asked me: “What have I done?”

Before calling an ambulance I tried to clean up the mess on the floor

I didn’t want strangers in her house before I’d done something

“What have I done?” my mother said, again and again

In the hospital, a Nurse Supervising Case Manager told me that my mother might not qualify for rehab

I asked her if she’s crazy, which she didn’t like

“What’s your plan for her?” I asked, “What’s your fucking plan for an 85 year-old woman with a broken hip?”

“Well, she can just go home,” the Nurse Superannuated Case Manager said, “and be cared for by friends and loved ones.”

Alan Simpson, Nurse Manager to the nation, has a twinkle in his eye when he says:

“We’ve got guys who will not approve the debt limit extension unless we give ’em a piece of meat,

 real meat,” meaning spending cuts. “And boy, the blood bath will be extraordinary,” he continued. 

Steve Hellyard Swartz is Poet Laureate of Schenectady, NY. He is a frequent contributor to New Verse News. Swartz is a 2011 Pushcart Prize nominee for Poetry. His poems have appeared in The Patterson Review, The Southern Indiana Review, The Kennesaw Review, and online at Best Poem and switched-on gutenberg. He is the winner of a First Place Award given by the Society of Professional Journalists for Excellence in Broadcasting. In 1990, Never Leave Nevada, a movie he wrote and directed, opened at the US Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.