Samuel Wharton


someone has to wait for them     the frat boys
rolled in on gurneys     the tiny pregnant

girls early in their labor     dull blue chairs
soothe     Chris Farley like a sedative

on the television     I am lucky:
my life is not threatened     though I want to cry

for the immigrant couple whose son
is going scarlet with fever     mostly I stare

at the cheap pebbled walls     me & the young
pretty girlfriend who backed over her man's leg

the skinny pink-shirted punk who just now
got his visitor badge     me & the business-

man with the lap-top     angry for lack of wifi†††††
the lady who's been here all night     trying to see

how far up the air-vent she can see     as daylight begins
its creep     security guards who've seen it all before

the orderlies with extra stretchers     someone
has to wait at home with coffee     someone

bangs on the snack machine     the ridiculous
pretzels somehow hanging     just like in a movie†††††

I've watched this scene as many times as anybody else
enough so that it's not really real     so I wait for the joke

I wait for the comforting pat on the nurse's
ass     I wait for the happy ending     each

ambulance that pulls up is another happy ending
waiting     each drunk that stumbles in

cut across the forehead     someone should cry
for the homeless man who'll be back in a week

the pimp pushing his best girl in a wheelchair
counting out her lost time     setting

his flared hat on her head for luck     somebody
tries to face the dirty bathroom mirror

with a straight face     waiting for somebody
to give us signs that we can read as the knowledge

that we're not waiting for nothing

Samuel Wharton's poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Concher, Death Metal Poetry , elimae, foam:e, Memorious, NO÷ Journal , Otoliths, & Outside Voices' 2008 Anthology of Younger Poets. He is the author of a chapbook, Welcome Home, available from NeOPepper Press, & the editor of the online poetry journal Sawbuck.

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