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A novel in verse … and the writing thereof
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Pulling It Off

We moved Danny sometime

     between four and five a.m.,

after the last round by the night nurses

     but before the day shift came on.

We simply

wheeled his bed from one ward to the other.

Fortunately, they were on the same floor, so we avoided

the creaking, thumping elevators.

First, over the brown linoleum floors with their black stripe

one foot out from the walls, which were

     lima-bean green,

we rolled an empty bed from Patterson’s ward to Morton’s,

left it in the hall while we pushed Danny out, stashing him

briefly there to roll the empty bed into his place—

It was

     quite an operation.

Then, back to Danny.

“Thieves in the night,” he muttered, grinning

     from one to the other

     of us, hands behind his head. “Ah, ladies,

it’s m’ dream come true: to be stolen from my bed

by two lovely women.     “

“Hush,” I scolded.

“Don’t even

     speak to him,” Rose instructed from

     the foot of the bed. “He don’t deserve it.”

Danny just grinned at her.

“Gently, ladies, gently,” he intoned

     as we rolled over the sill of the new ward.

“It wouldn’t look good if you killed me

     in this effort to

               save my life.”

“You be quiet,” Rose huffed, pushing hard.

“You been far and away enough trouble

already, boy, (puff) and now you’re complaining?

You give us away to Nurse Florence Nightingale,

I’m leaving you flat, and you

explain your way out of that

if you can, Danny-boy. I’d just like

to see you try. I’d like to hear it so much

I might just stick around instead of

     lighting out. Come to think of it, maybe

I could tell tickets. Should earn me

more’n I make at this job, easy, at colored wages.

What’s that noise you’re makin’ now?

You laughin’ at me, boy?”

“Who—whooee,” he cut loose at last.

“Oh Rose, how can I help it? You’d make a man laugh

     while the devil danced him to the grave.”

“Be quiet, you two,” I hissed.

     “You’ll wake the whole ward.”

“Yes’m,” said Danny. “We’ll be good.”

Patterson took one look

     and ordered amputation above the knee.

“Who in tarnation,” he railed,

“is responsible for this

outrage? No,

don’t tell me. I can’t be held responsible for what I’d do

if I knew. Whoever he is doesn’t deserve

to practice medicine on mollusks. Schedule this man for surgery

tomorrow. No, at once. Anger

will steady my hand.”

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