Lois Marie Harrod ~ Three Poems

The Heart Shows Signs

You’re out of sync, ditsy
in the daisies, where did you think
you were going? —bush­whacked and busy,

the I am, I am, I am of your life … that … steady
rhythm … start… bird star­tled stop …
against your rib … cage of feathers …

no, a pan­icked rat, jaw syncopating …
sud­den gnaw mov­ing to your chest
where you have been

keep­ing every­thing you love,
the sons who don’t call, the daughters
busy with their briefs, the heart

that shows signs of wear­ing down
and you try not to notice
what must be anoth­er attack of grief.


Catalogue for the Uncertainty Exhibit

Many adverse events are not pre­ventable and do not imply med­ical errors or sub­stan­dard med­ical care. Moreover, deter­min­ing whether a giv­en med­ical error direct­ly caused or con­tributed to a giv­en death in the hos­pi­tal is far from straight­for­ward in most cas­es.” Physician and sci­en­tist, David Gorski, Science-Based Medicine

To cure you they burned you
one half of your face, your throat,

the inside of your mouth
filled with sores and pus

which you spit into Kleenex
and dropped around the house.

Your son didn’t come
and nei­ther did your daughter.

You could not eat.
You could not swallow.

After 38 ses­sions of radiation
you grew so tired and weak,

you called your fam­i­ly doctor
and demand­ed to be put in the hospital

where the atten­dants had the usu­al trouble
insert­ing a naso­gas­tric feed­ing tube

until one physi­cian relented
and pre­scribed anesthesia.

When we came to see you,
you had been wait­ing half an hour

for a nurse to come
to take you to the toilet.

This is what is called
com­pre­hen­sive can­cer care.

Later you told me
the oncol­o­gist wasn’t sure

it was basal cell carcinoma
in the 7th cra­nial nerve.


Cosmic Distancing

Astronomers have repeat­ed­ly cal­cu­lat­ed the rate of the universe’s expansion—the Hubble constant—with two dif­fer­ent tech­niques. These mea­sure­ments have pro­duced a seem­ing­ly intractable con­flict. Scientific American, March 2020.

The stars too
are moving
though cosmologists
have not determined
the quick—
it’s one speed
when they measure
back to the start,
anoth­er when they predict
the end
or if not the end,
the time all
moves so distant
the cosmos
appears empty.
You know
what I mean,
the Hubble constant
and already deceiving—
you in such a far corner
of our lit­tle house
I no longer
hear you.
It’s not deafness.
It’s not cheating.
It’s the cos­mic virus
our galaxies.
How soon?
How fast?
Please don’t leave
this room.


Lois Marie Harrod’s col­lec­tion Woman (Blue Lyra) appeared in February 2020. Her Nightmares of the Minor Poet appeared in June 2016 from Five Oaks; her chap­book And She Took the Heart appeared in January 2016; Fragments from the Biography of Nemesis (Cherry Grove Press) and the chap­book How Marlene Mae Longs for Truth (Dancing Girl Press) appeared in 2013. A Dodge poet, she is pub­lished in lit­er­ary jour­nals and online ezines from American Poetry Review to Zone 3. The last 14 years, she has taught at the Evergreen Forum in Princeton and at The College of New Jersey. Links to her online work are at www.loismarieharrod.org.