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“Dream Song 94” by John Berryman (1914 – 1972)
Ill lay he long, upon this last return,
unvisited. The doctors put everything in the hospital
into reluctant Henry
and the nurses took it out & put it back,
smiling like fiends, with their eternal ‘we.’
Henry did a slow burn,
collapsing his dialogue to their white ears
& shiny on the flanges. Sanka he drank
until his memories blurred
& Valerie was coming, lower he sank
and lovely. Teddy on his handlebars
perched, her. One word he heard
insistent his broad shortcomings, then lay still.
That middle-sized wild man was ill.
A hospital is where it all has a use,
so is a makar … So is substantial God,
tuning in from abroad.