Poems to share

Roosevelt Hospital Blues

I thought that nothing ever happened to me.
To other people, yes, but not to me.
But baby, I was as wrong as I could be.

I slipped on the ice last January, broke my wrist.
Thinking about you, slipped and broke my wrist.
Forgot how long it was since I’d been kissed.

February, March – we grabbed the hours we could.
My wrist was in a cast but we grabbed what time we could.
It was never enough but it was always good.

April in Haiti: we visited some schools.
Went to Haiti, visited three high schools.
Back in the hotel, swam in a turquoise pool

A tree grew by the pool, its fruit was gold.
A nameless tree, its fruit was glowing gold.
Let’s live together until we’re really old.

My red bathing suit was drying on the bedspread.
We’d been making love all over the bed.
I want to live with you till we are dead.

They stoned this artist to death right in the street.
At thirty-one he died in a Petionville street.
Death is cold and life is full of heat.

The eyes he painted stare from the other side.
Those eyes: a challenge from the other side.
They say: I’m dead but my spirit hasn’t died.

The lawyer in mascara looking like a raccoon,
The divorce lawyer disguised as a raccoon
Roots in a garbage pail under the moon.

Went to the doctor, didn’t like what he said.
We held hands and listened to what the doctor said.
As long as I’m with you I’m not afraid.

He told me to go to Roosevelt Hospital ER,
Rush hour in the rain to the ER.
I hailed a rickshaw – next best thing to a car.

Riding in a rickshaw up Tenth Avenue,
Peddling in a rickshaw up Tenth Avenue,
My CAT scan sucks but I’m in love with you.

Love is a rickshaw bumping along in the rain,
Our love is a ride over potholes in the rain.
It’s too intense, don’t ask me to explain.

We’re on some journey sweet and fast and slow,
Some adventure moving fast then slow.
Let’s go together, baby, wherever we go.

Published in The Times Literary Supplement 2016. Reprinted by permission of The Times Literary Supplement.

Rachel Hadas

Rachel Hadas is an American poet, prose-writer and translator. Hadas’s most recent book of poems is Questions in the Vestibule (2016). Asked what’s next, though, Hadas told us that she has an ‘immense pile of uncollected poems that is beginning to pluck at me and ask for some overdue attention, the way my elderly cat does.’