In Search of Better Stories

Holiday Season Death Toll


Holiday season death toll.

Michael was the first to go.


From the hospital newly arrived.

No one predicted he would have died.


At 55 his leg they could not save.

But still much too young for the grave.


911 we called but then forced to wait.

“We are busy, he’s not too bad.” They said, tempting fate.


One hour, two hours three hours, four.

“Can he just wait a little bit more?”


Five hours, six hours, seven hours — this is too long!

We call back again, “I think he’s gone.”


In a moment they arrive, lights flashing red.

Too late, too late Michaels dead.


Dennis, the grandmaster of smoke and drink.

His walls coated brown with cigarette stink.

No need for a bath or some clean clothes.

Dennis gets a cut on one of his toes.

The wound remains hidden under a putrid sock.

It grows and festers, now Dennis can’t walk.

Later at the hospital, the doctor shakes his head.

So much of Dennis’ foot is already dead.

For five months they try with all their might.

To stop the ever-spreading blight.

In the end, everything below the hip has to go.

All this woe from an uncleaned, unchecked toe.

He comes back grouchy to a room we’ve cleaned.

Even his brown walls we steamed.

Twelve hundred and one empty cans of beer extracted

A fresh new start with filth subtracted.

To smoke and to get wall plastered drunk,

Is the strategy to get him out of his funk.

But this body can no longer handle the abuse.

A rupture happens, it’s over, cooked like a goose.


Tony — tough, tiny, paranoid, and rude.

Almost everything about him is crude.


It’s his way to live in squalor with his fist balled tight.

Porn on his walls, ready to fight.


As he ages, he imagines bad guys all around.

We look on the security cameras none could be found.


As ghosts from the past fill him with fright,

Cancer sneaks in and holds on tight.


He refused help with angry curses for all but one.

The beautiful nurse Dessa, his ray of sun.


With gentle touch and eyes of blue so fair,

She lovingly ushers him in, to palliative care.


Cancer does its brutal thing.

There is no chance Tony makes it to Spring.


Gone for the final days is his fiery flair.

He says “sorry” to me, he starts to care!


Didn’t see that coming but its nice all the same.

Is Tony upping his religious game?


All three gone away.

To dust or eternity who can say?


If there’s a story that lives beyond our earthly years. 

My vote’s for redeeming love to wipe away all the tears.

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