January Thaw

January 1, 1998

January Thaw - Poetry of the Times

It is the winter of chest pain and snow,
all the drunks smashed
through the ER doors.
The Senior Resident in his new blue coat
can coax a silent heart,
but only curses the jaundiced men,
exiles them to frozen doorways,
shivered Thunderbird,
the luke-warm comfort of bitter coffee.
And he hates Drunken Johnny most of all,
loathes him and saves him,
Johnny rising immortal in disregard
for the slum of his body.

One night, he stumbles in, explosive,
ice loaded on his beard,
snow like soot falling from his flak jacket.
He shuffles to the gurney,
the Senior's rage like an ice storm.
Johnny's hands shake
to untie a glazed lace,
and when he grunts a drunken heave
on the boot, his foot breaks off
silent as torn moldy bread.
Johnny collapses, an intern vomits,
but the Senior stands hard
until tears kick across his face
and he wails like spring rain for a surgeon.
© CME LLC
1/98

Read more of Dr. Berlin's work.