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A Note about Alan Sullivan

Nearly two years ago, the poet and blogger Alan Sullivan died. His final project, a new translation of the Book of Psalms, has been published. The translation can be ordered here. His collaborator and advisor on this translation, Seree Zohar, was kind enough to send me a note to tell me this, and to gently correct my impression — as I wrote in my post about his death — that the work remained unfinished. Sullivan, in fact, completed the translation in the very last days of his life, and I am glad to make that correction.

More on Alan Sullivan as poet is found in this brilliant tribute here.

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Favourite Poems LVII: Death

The first two lines — “Because I could not stop for Death,/He kindly stopped for me” — must be among the greatest opening lines of any poem.

Death

Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality.

http://zhurnaly.com/images/zhurnalnet_z_images/emily_dickinson.jpg

We slowly drove, he knew no haste,
And I had put away
My labor, and my leisure too,
For his civility.

We passed the school, where children strove
At recess, in the ring;
We passed the fields of gazing grain,
We passed the setting sun.

Or rather, he passed us;
The dews grew quivering and chill,
For only gossamer my gown,
My tippet only tulle.

We paused before a house that seemed
A swelling of the ground;
The roof was scarcely visible,
The cornice but a mound.

Since then ’tis centuries, and yet each
Feels shorter than the day
I first surmised the horses’ heads
Were toward eternity.

— Emily Dickenson

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Favourite Poems LVI: Three Short Poems on Spring

Song on a May Morning

Now the bright morning-star, Day’s harbinger,
Comes dancing from the East, and leads with her
The flowery May, who from her green lap throws
The yellow cowslip and the pale primrose.
Hail, bounteous May, that dost inspire
Mirth, and youth, and warm desire!
Woods and groves are of thy dressing;
Hill and dale doth boast thy blessing.
Thus we salute thee with our early song,
And welcome thee, and wish thee long.

— Milton (1660)

***         ***          ***

The year is ended, and it only adds to my age

The year is ended, and it only adds to my age;
Spring has come, but I must take leave of my home.
Alas, that the trees in this eastern garden,
Without me, will still bear flowers.

Su Ting (b. CE 680)

***         ***          ***

[In Just-]

in Just-
spring      when the world is mud-
luscious the little
lame balloonman

whistles      far      and wee

and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it’s
spring

when the world is puddle-wonderful

the queer
old balloonman whistles
far      and      wee
and bettyandisbel come dancing

from hop-scotch and jump-rope and

it’s
spring
and

the

goat-footed

balloonMan       whistles
far
and
wee

— e. e. cummings (1923)

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Favourite Poems LVIII: And You as Well Must Die, Belovèd Dust | Edna St. Vincent Millay

You sometimes forget about authors. They sort of fall out of your head. Expect more Millay in the future.

And You as Well Must Die, Belovèd Dust

And you as well must die, belovèd dust,
And all your beauty stand you in no stead;
This flawless, vital hand, this perfect head,
This body of flame and steel, before the gust
Of Death, or under his autumnal frost,
Shall be as any leaf, be no less dead
Than the first leaf that fell,this wonder fled,
Altered, estranged, disintegrated, lost.
Nor shall my love avail you in your hour.
In spite of all my love, you will arise
Upon that day and wander down the air
Obscurely as the unattended flower,
It mattering not how beautiful you were,
Or how belovèd above all else that dies.

— Edna St. Vincent Millay

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Nurse Love, The Real Kind

Some real nurse love — and incidentally reminding us why we have the most tremendous profession in the world and how we each day make a powerful  difference in the lives of our patients. Via the blog The Spohrs are Multiplying, Mike Spohr writes about the day his child died:

On the horrible day that Maddie passed there was a nurse who stayed by Heather’s side the whole time, and I am so thankful for her kindness to my wife. There was a nurse that mattered to me too that night, though she didn’t stay by my side, bring me a glass of water, or even say a word to me. In fact, I don’t think I saw her until the last few seconds I walked out of the PICU, but she made a difference nonetheless.

You see, that day my life shattered. I watched my daughter die in front of me, and it was an experience so horrific that even now it seems almost surreal, like, “Did that actually happen? To me and family?” But it did, and one of the things I remember most about it was how the key medical personnel there didn’t make me feel like they found Maddie to be beautiful and strong or amazing and a gift. The lead doctor, for example, was under a great deal of stress, but the way he pronounced her dead was not right. It was more like a referee calling the end to a heavyweight fight than the end to a beautiful child’s life. Then, as we held our dead child in our arms and kissed her goodbye, doctors stood behind the curtain discussing the specifics of what had happened with about as much feeling as mechanics discussing a broken down car.

It was only as I left the PICU that I felt humanity from the medical staff. There, sitting on a chair with a single tear rolling down her cheek, was my nurse. Her tear told me that she cared. About Heather, about me, and most importantly, about my beautiful Madeline.

That’s what nurses do that is so important. In addition to all of their medical expertise, they bring a human element to the cold, sterile world of a hospital. Doctors do great things, but have a heavy case load that means they can only visit each patient briefly each day, but the nurses will hold your hand – figuratively or literally – and remind you that you are not alone, and that your life is valued even if it can’t be saved.

[But go read it all. You won’t be disappointed, or unmoved.]

A good and valuable antidote to the river of treacly pronouncements and saccharine encomiums we are about to receive from our employers, nursing leaders and other power centres in the nursophere in anticipation of Nurses’ Week. Worth about a million of ‘em, I think.

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Favourite Poems LI

Easter in Pittsburgh

Even on Easter Sunday
jungle of lilies and

ferns fat Uncle Paul
who loved his liquor

so would pound away
with both fists on the

when the church was a
stone pulpit shouting

sin sin sin and the
fiery fires of hell

and I cried all after-
noon the first time I

heard what they did to
Jesus it was something

the children shouldn’t
know about till they

were older but the new
maid told me and both

of us cried a lot and so
mother got another one

right away & she sent
away Miss Richardson

who came all the way
from England because

she kept telling how
her fiancé Mr. Bowles-

Lyon died suddenly of
a heart attack he just

said one day at lunch
I’m afraid I’m not well

and the next thing they
knew he was sliding un-

der the table. Easter
was nice the eggs were

silly but the big lilies
were wonderful & when

Uncle Paul got so fat
from drinking that he

couldn’t squeeze into
the pulpit anymore &

had to preach from the
floor there was an el-

ders’ meeting and they
said they would have

the pulpit rebuilt but
Uncle Paul said no it

was the Lord’s manifest
will and he would pass

his remaining years in
sacred studies I liked

Thanksgiving better be-
cause that was the day

father took us down to
the mills but Easter I

liked next best and the
rabbits died because we

fed them beet tops and
the lamb pulled up the

grass by the roots and
was sold to Mr. Page the

butcher I asked Uncle
Robert what were sacred

studies he said he was
not really sure but he

guessed they came in a
bottle and mother sent

me away from the table
when I wouldn’t eat my

lamb chops that was
ridiculous she said it

wasn’t the lamb of God
it was just Caesar An-

dromache Nibbles but I
couldn’t I just couldn’t

& the year of the strike
we didn’t go to Church

at all on Easter because
they said it wasn’t safe

down town so instead we
had prayers in the library

and then right in the mid-
dle the telephone rang it

was Mr. Shupstead at the
mill they had had to use

tear gas father made a
special prayer right a-

way for God’s protection
& mercy and then he sent

us out to the farm with
mother we stayed a week

and missed school but it
rained a lot and I broke

the bathroom mirror and
had to learn a long psalm.

— James Laughlin (1940)

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Best Laid Plans of Mice and Bloggers

Here I was planning to post on multitude of topics, including some stuff on breastfeeding, restraints, the duty to care, more twists and turns in the Amanda Trujillo case, the usual CVSaturday poem and Friday night short film, and I evenhad a wicked April Fools’ joke to launch on Sunday.

Life gets in the way. In in this case it is a family medical emergency which is going to be consuming my time over the next few days. There there won’t be any new posts until Monday at the very earliest, and maybe not even then. I’ll see you next week.

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Favourite Poems L

Yes, the fiftieth edition of Favourite Poems. You might wonder why a blog about nurses and nursing (and some other stuff, but mostly nursing) does poetry. The answer is simple: because nursing is far more than all the mundane tasks we need to do to care for our patients. Poetry by its nature forces you to think in a different way, better understand the human condition, ourselves and, yes, our patients. If I had my druthers, I would have a poem read before every shift — though my colleagues might object.

Anyway, a few short comical poems by Ogden Nash.

 

Further Reflections on Parsley

Parsley
Is gharsley

*****          *****           *****

No Doctor’s Today, Thank You

They tell me that euphoria is the feeling of feeling wonderful,
well, today I feel euphorian,
Today I have the agility of a Greek god and the appetitite of a
Victorian.
Yes, today I may even go forth without my galoshes,
Today I am a swashbuckler, would anybody like me to buckle
any swashes?
This is my euphorian day,
I will ring welkins and before anybody answers I will run away.
I will tame me a caribou
And bedeck it with marabou.
I will pen me my memoirs.
Ah youth, youth! What euphorian days them was!
I wasn’t much of a hand for the boudoirs,
I was generally to be found where the food was.
Does anybody want any flotsam?
I’ve gotsam.
Does anybody want any jetsam?
I can getsam.
I can play chopsticks on the Wurlitzer,
I can speak Portuguese like a Berlitzer.
I can don or doff my shoes without tying or untying the laces because
I am wearing moccasins,
And I practically know the difference between serums and antitoccasins.
Kind people, don’t think me purse-proud, don’t set me down as
vainglorious,
I’m just a little euphorious.

*****          *****           *****

The Lama

The one-l lama, He’s a priest.
The two-l llama, He’s a beast.
And I will bet
A silk pajama T
here isn’t any Three-l lllama.*

*The author’s attention has been called to a type of conflagration known as a three-alarmer. Pooh.

— Ogden Nash

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Friday Night Flicks: Eye of the Storm

I know this short/music video by Lovett was criticized by some for being essentially plotless and shallow, but for me anyway, creating a  backstory to the nth detail indicates the creator thinks the audience has no imagination: trust me, there are plenty of hints and unanswered questions — and ambiguity — to make this worth watching. (Couch mode here.)

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Portraits of Nurses at War

A small selection of photographs from the National Archives of Canada. Nurses have served with the Canadian military since Northwest Rebellion in 1885 and small contingents were sent to the South African War — the Boer War — at the turn of the last century. Nurses became an official part of the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps in 1901, and have served in every conflict since.

Nursing sister, First Canadian Contigent, South African War

Nursing sister Ruby Gordon Peterkin. First World War. Note the boots — and heels!

.First World War, in front of a Casualty Clearing Station.

Unidentified Nursing Sister, First World War.

Nursing Sister Ruth Webster, North Africa, Second World War. Great photo. Colour gives this photo an unexpected immediacy. Note the utilitarian uniform, in contrast to the Boer War nurse above, the only concession to tradition being the headdress.

Same nurse. The Archive calls this one Nursing Sister Valerie Hora. Whatever her name — Valerie or Ruth — there is great strength of character in her face which the photographer has captured to an exactitude.

Nursing Sisters of No. 10 Canadian General Hospital, R.C.A.M.C., landing at Arromanches, France, 23 July 1944, about six weeks after D-Day. Eager and enthusiastic.

Canadian Nurses with Bob Hope.

Cpl. Bill Kay Strolls with Nursing Sister Dorothy Rapsey. North Africa? Second World War.

The price. Mass funeral of nurses after a German air raid. Note the nurses’ uniforms on top of the coffins.

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