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Pub date: Jan 2013
ISBN 978-1933880341

Laurel Books

My Crooked House,by Teresa Carson

Waiting Room Reader, Vol II: Words to Keep You Company, Guest Editor Rachel Hadas

Motherhood Exaggerated,by Judith Hannan

Little Boy Blue: A Memoir in Verse, by Gray Jacobik

Letters From a Distant Shore, by Marie Lawson Fiala

The Waiting Room Reader, Vol I: Stories to Keep You Company, Senior Editor: Joan Cusack Handler

We Mad Climb Shaky Ladders, by Pamela Spiro Wagner

Elegy for the Floater, by Teresa Carson

Surviving Has Made Me Crazy, by Mark Nepo

To The Marrow, by Robert Seder

Body of Diminishing Motion, by Joan Seliger Sidney

Life With Sam, by Elizabeth Hall Hutner

See Laurel Book's
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CavanKerry Press LTD.
CavanKerry Press

Waiting Room Reader, Vol II:
Words to Keep You Company

Waiting Room Reader, Vol II: Words to Keep You CompanyComing in February 2013

Guest editor: Rachel Hadas

This second volume of The Waiting Room Reader is edited by world-renown poet and author Rachel Hadas, and is again co-sponsored by The Arnold P. Gold Foundation for Humanism in Medicine. This collection continues CavanKerry’s commitment to providing high quality literature to help reduce the stress and anxiety of patients, and their caregivers, who are waiting for medical care.

“So much more than a mere distraction from the tedium mixed with apprehension of waiting to see the doctor, this stunning second volume of The Waiting Room Reader is a powerful expression itself of the attentive and compassionate care we seek when confronted by illness.  With extraordinary poems from the likes of Maxine Kumin, Martha Serpas, and Rosanna Warren, as well as astonishing new voices like Joanne Chin and Marie Terrrone, this anthology reminds us that every therapeutic act is a kind of poetry, born of empathy and full of transformative hope.  For patients and those who care for them alike, what you will find here heals.”

Rafael Campo, M.A., M.D., D.Litt. (Hon)
Associate Professor of Medicine
Harvard Medical School

Director, Office of Multicultural Affairs
Director, Katherine Swan Ginsburg Humanism in Medicine Program
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

“I was surprised to find so few poems in The Waiting Room Reader about illness. No doctor or nurse appears in the collection. There are few if any scenes of physical suffering. (This is not to say there is no grief, no longing, no missing, no birthing.) Instead, the Reader seems poised in the opposite direction—not what am I waiting for but what is waiting for me? Here, gathered lightly in this surprising, evocative, and deep collection of texts are the things we wait for. Quite beyond the news of the biopsy or the report of the surgery, what we wait for are the juices of the white peach, the langoustine darting, the walking like herons, the look on the grand-daughter’s face that seems second sight of one’s own. As we wait, perhaps wherever we wait, we enter the silence of John Cage and the breathing of trees.

What good waiting requires is the power of poetry—the freedom to dwell in both ends of contradictions—light/dark, now/then, stasis/movement, smallest/biggest, first/last, inside/outside. What good waiting donates is the recognition of those things that matter—of the earth, of the family, of the body, of time, of love—a crazy, ignorant joy.

And so the Reader gently suggests that being sick brings us to face the extremes of living. Sickness exposes the things we are usually insulated from, from our gladness at the moon to our counting of our days. Waiting makes time real, and with it the remembrance and the reclamation, the repudiation and the reverence at its passing. Waiting for the surgeon to emerge from the OR with news forces us to wait for all that matters—the living, the meaning, the loving, the touching, the forgiving, the being forgiven, the being. By collecting these poems in this book, all we readers are reminded that poetry occurs when that which most matters breaks into words.”

—Rita Charon, Program in Narrative Medicine, Columbia University

“Patients and their families will discover an unexpected blessing in this collection of poems and short prose. The poems are warm and inviting. They sparkle with wisdom. The stories are little gems of insight and humor. The most beautiful thing about The Waiting Room Reader is its respectfulness. Medical waiting rooms are fraught with uncertainty, fear, fatigue, boredom, discomfort, and suffering. This unobtrusive collection acknowledges these feelings, while respectfully nudging the reader toward a poem or story that might well offer a moment of relief and, hopefully, leave the reader with a small dose of healing.”

—Jack Coulehan, MD, Author of Medicine Stone and Bursting With Danger and Music

Along with an introduction from Rachel Hadas, contributors include: Daniel Brown, Lorna Knowles Blake, Martha Serpas, Benjamin K. Rogers, Paula Neves, Shira Dentz, Maxine Kumin, Elizabeth Spires, Phillis Levin, Quincy Lehr, Richard Marx Weinraub, Kristin Prevallet, Moyra Donaldson, Rena J. Mosteirin, Jennifer Arin, Frank Huyler, Britt Melewski, Robin Behn, Garnder McFall, Dawn Potter, Kathleen Gerard, Elizabeth Kim, Nin Andrews, Marta Ferguson, Todd Davis, Maria Terrone, Barbara Crooker, Janice Levy, Roberto F. Santiago, Vincent Toro, Myra Shapiro, Susan Jackson, Maria Gillian, Sally Lipton Derringer, Roxanne Hoffman, Mark Brazaitis, Joanne Chin, Steve Cushman, Tamra Plotnick, Dolores Hayden, Melissa Carl, Martha Oliver-Smith, Bernadette Geyer, Adam Tavel, Natania Rosenfeld, Molly Peacock, Liz Rosenberg, Rosanna Warren, Ellen Steinbaum, Michael Snediker, Janet McCann, Susanna Rich, Vincent J. Tomeo, Claude Clayton Smith, Helen Carson, Laurence Snydal, Meg Kearney, Rimas Uzgiris, C.P. Mangel, Jeffrey Harrison, Jack Ridl, Sally Bliumis-Dunn, Diana Woodcock, Wanda S. Praisner, Lee Slonimsky, Patti Tana, Reeve Lindbergh, Peter Moore, Jonathan Blake, Kirk Gooding, Sam Taylor, Michael Palmer, Linda Pastan, Rebecca Taksel, Julia Morris Paul, Sara Hunsiker, Jessica Greenbaum.

If you are a healthcare professional and would like to inquire about free copies of the WWR, please contact Josh Kashinsky at


Selected Poems from Waiting Room Reader, Volume II: Words to Keep You Company

“In Heaven It Is Always Autumn”
—John Donne

In heaven it is always autumn. The leaves are always near
to falling there but never fall, and pairs of souls out walking
heaven’s paths no longer feel the weight of years upon them.
Safe in heaven’s calm, they take each other’s arm,
the light shining through them, all joy and terror gone.
But we are far from heaven here, in a garden ragged and unkept
as Eden would be with the walls knocked down, the paths littered
with the unswept leaves of many years, bright keepsakes
for children of the Fall. The light is gold, the sun pulling
the long shadow soul out of each thing, disclosing an outcome.
The last roses of the year nod their frail heads,
like listeners listening to all that’s said, to ask,
What brought us here? What seed? What rain? What light?
What forced us upward through dark earth? What made us bloom?
What wind shall take us soon, sweeping the garden bare?
Their voiceless voices hang there, as ours might,
if we were roses, too. Their beds are blanketed with leaves,
tended by an absent gardener whose life is elsewhere.
It is the last of many last days. Is it enough?
To rest in this moment? To turn our faces to the sun?
To watch the lineaments of a world passing?
To feel the metal of a black iron chair, cool and eternal,
press against our skin? To apprehend a chill as clouds
pass overhead, turning us to shivering shade and shadow?
And then to be restored, small miracle, the sun shining brightly
as before? We go on, you leading the way, a figure
leaning on a cane that leaves its mark on the earth.
My friend, you have led me further than I have ever been.
To a garden in autumn. To a heaven of impermanence
where the final falling off is slow, a slow and radiant happening.
The light is gold. And while we’re here, I think it must be heaven.

Elizabeth Spires

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Ode to Chocolate

I hate milk chocolate, don’t want clouds
of cream diluting the dark night sky,
don’t want pralines or raisins, rubble
in this smooth plateau. I like my coffee
black, my beer from Germany, wine
from Burgundy, the darker, the better.
I like my heroes complicated and brooding,
James Dean in oiled leather, leaning
on a motorcycle. You know the color.

Oh, chocolate! From the spice bazaars
of Africa, hulled in mills, beaten,
pressed in bars. The cold slab of a cave’s
interior, when all the stars
have gone to sleep.

Chocolate strolls up to the microphone
and plays jazz at midnight, the low slow
notes of a bass clarinet. Chocolate saunters
down the runway, slouches in quaint
boutiques; its style is je ne sais quoi.
Chocolate stays up late and gambles,
likes roulette. Always bets
on the noir.

Barbara Crooker

* * * * * * * * * *

My Mother Had Red Hair

My mother had red hair. My mother said put yourself in the other person’s place. My mother took me to the bakery and let me pick out cookies. My mother tucked me in. My mother said it would be okay. My mother had a father who painted houses. My mother felt better with her lipstick on my mother died. My mother held my hand. My mother liked to sit in the garden my father planted. My mother painted gardens. My mother knew what I was thinking before I said it my mother gave me sisters. My mother asked the piano teacher for the Beatles instead of Mozart. My mother told me I was not allowed to hate. My mother read me Peter Pan. My mother didn’t know that she was beautiful. My mother said to me “Do what you have to do.” My mother never raised her voice. My mother liked boys with long hair my mother had red hair that everyone thought was dyed. My mother kept all her friends from childhood my mother loved her students. My mother said get rid of the guilt. My mother never told me to turn down the music my mother packed my lunch. My mother told me I would know it when I fell in love. My mother said “How can I let you go home?!” My mother helped me tie-dye a shirt. My mother said “Sal!!” when I called on the phone. My mother wanted to be a ballet dancer. My mother felt better with her lipstick on. My mother asked what makes this a poem. My mother didn’t know that she was beautiful. My mother told me it would be okay. My mother had red hair my mother held my hand my mother died my mother tucked me in. I put my mother’s lipstick on My mother my mother my mother my mother my mother.

Sally Lipton Derringer

* * * * * * * * * *


Sometime between the chaos of Genesis One
and the Tower of Babel in Eleven,
God created language with all its busy verbs,
its vowels and consonants,
its dark commandments.

The Patriarchs might say it started with Eve,
a kind of package deal, and point to the gossiping
of women. But it was Adam who named
the plants and animals, as if the fruit of a lemon
wouldn’t prick the tongue without some arbitrary label.

I dream of the sounds of wind and water,
undifferentiated syllables of music.
And in the midst of all
these noisy books, this talk,
I grow intoxicated by silence.

Use your words, we tell our children now.
But without language, could the snake
have tempted Eve? And if you had
held your hand out wordless to me,
wouldn’t I still have followed?

<AU>Linda Pastan