Pandora’s Pill Bottle. (A poem about the narcotic epidemic)

Pandora’s Pill Bottle

‘Patients who suffer from painful conditions
Should always be treated by caring physicians,
Who never forget to give good medications
For problems from fractures to awful menstruation.’

‘The fifth vital sign is your bright guiding light
The pain scale will lead you to do what is right,
So doctor remember to show some compassion
Since giving narcotics is now quite the fashion!’

Thus we were told for a decade or two
As patients stopped breathing and turned rather blue.
But hospitals loved their new high survey scores
And doctors were turned into pill-writing whores.

Yet things are now changing across the whole nation.
There’s blame all around and new drug regulations.
‘What were you thinking? What were you doing?’
‘How could this happen? Someone will start suing!’

In ER’s and clinics and every location
We docs shake our heads with increasing frustration.
We did what they told us despite all our fears
And Pandora’s Pill Bottle spilled out for years.

The pain scale betrayed us and caused too much trouble
The fifth vital sign is a big popping bubble.
The statistics we’re reading have left us quite nauseous.
So we’re trying new things to save lives and be cautious.

Dear doctors it’s you that must make these decisions!
Push back against administrative derision!
And when those ‘above us’ make policy errors
Stand in for the truth to prevent further terrors.

Christmas Poem, G.K. Chesterton

Christmas Poem


There fared a mother driven forth
Out of an inn to roam;
In the place where she was homeless
All men are at home.
The crazy stable close at hand,
With shaking timber and shifting sand,
Grew a stronger thing to abide and stand
Than the square stones of Rome.

For men are homesick in their homes,
And strangers under the sun,
And they lay their heads in a foreign land
Whenever the day is done.

Here we have battle and blazing eyes,
And chance and honour and high surprise,
But our homes are under miraculous skies
Where the yule tale was begun.

A child in a foul stable,
Where the beasts feed and foam;
Only where He was homeless
Are you and I at home;
We have hands that fashion and heads that know,
But our hearts we lost—how long ago!
In a place no chart nor ship can show
Under the sky’s dome.

This world is wild as an old wife’s tale,
And strange the plain things are,
The earth is enough and the air is enough
For our wonder and our war;
But our rest is as far as the fire-drake swings
And our peace is put in impossible things
Where clashed and thundered unthinkable wings
Round an incredible star.

To an open house in the evening
Home shall all men come,
To an older place than Eden
And a taller town than Rome.
To the end of the way of the wandering star,
To the things that cannot be and that are,
To the place where God was homeless
And all men are at home.

(Gilbert Keith Chesterton)

With thanks to:

Not only do GKC and I share a name (my first name is Keith, as is my father’s), he is truly one of my great literary heroes.  If you aren’t familiar with his work, please look it up.  His biographies of St. Francis and St. Thomas are very good, and his fiction is always fun; even his serious Christian work is a pleasure.  He was a great influence on C.S. Lewis.  Oh, and he carried a sword cane and pocket pistol with which to defend his treasured wife.  Thanks, GKC, for your gifts to us!


MonstERs Aren’t so Scary!

MonstERs Aren’t so Scary!
It’s Halloween Emergencies
beneath the cloudy skies,
And every beastie that we see
Is worried it might die.

But ghosts and ghouls that terrify
Are actually big chickens,
They moan and wail and loudly cry
and whine to beat the Dickens.

Wolf-man fears the rabies
from his canine inclinations;
he mauled some little ladies
but he wants a vaccination.

Mummy chased an aged docent,
Now he’s out of breath.
Usually he won’t relent
Until his victim’s gruesome death.

Vampires dapper count their losses,
suffering from many things;
garlic, wooden stakes and crosses,
wailing ‘holy water stings!’

A witch’s coven comes in haste
in fear of deadly toxins;
their brew had such an awful taste
like someone put a pox upon ‘em!

Hulking monster Frankenstein
is quite the sobbing wreck;
while terrorizing villagers
the bolts fell off his neck.

And skeletons of every size,
have bones of all sorts broken;
the orthopedist shakes his head
since all the breaks are open!

By morning all have slunk away,
the blood and fur swept up.
The staff can see the light of day
and cling to empty coffee cups.
Doctors, nurses, medics all
and seasoned secretaries
know this happens every fall;
to them the beasts ain’t scary.

Compared with all the normal nights,
the mayhem and the pains,
the wrecks and strokes and hateful fights
that leave the staff all drained,

The monstrous band of Halloween
does not cause much alarm;
It’s mortals and their earthly woes
that suffer all the harm!

The Halloween Battle

So every year, at Halloween, the world embraces darkness.  In the West, we laugh about it and adore the most horrific costumes and the most murderous, blood-soaked movies in the growing pornography of death, as my wife describes it.

And while my kids have done their share of Trick or Treating, and I’m not a hard-nosed, Southern Baptist, anti-Halloween guy, I am puzzled by the way we seem to assume that the power of evil is so great.  Even as we, as a culture, desire safety and peace, love and acceptance, hope and long life, we bow at the altar of terrible things in our films, shows and culture…and celebration.

So I’ve been playing with this idea and put it into a kind of free-verse poem.  Excuse me, as I’m not trained as a poet.

The Halloween Battle

Though no one could see them,

the forest burst with dark spirits;

the Banshee wailed and the dogs howled

as even owls hid their great, glowing eyes beneath

soft wings in windswept, leaf-bare trees.


They streamed to the vast house,

full of holes for spirits and creatures,

night-loving, dark-seeking things that adored

creaking porches and swaying, finger-like trees,

reaching, reaching for children on the walk.


Children there were, bright-eyed, grasped

tightly by light-wielding mothers and fathers,

alert, even in these late ages, for things their sires

spoke of only in hushed tales around bright fires;

knowing that evil things love their single night of praise.


Unseen by dim-witted moderns, only felt at the nape of the neck,

or in goose-bumped, hair-raised flesh;

dark, unspeakable shapes wove along the walks

looked in windows, hovered over roof-tops, climbed lattices,

pointing down at the innocent parade below.


In dark caverns candles were lit, spells read,

And from empty wells, crumbled graves, things emerged;

All about the silent scream of the unleashed

heard only by highest saints and deepest sinners,

as the educated skipped along in blind collusion.


The mass of dark things, hungry, constrained, probed

the wall between realms, stretched and scratched,

salivating for the fear it could unleash once more

on men and women who knew (they thought)

everything there was to know.


But just before, just before, Emmy Pitts, age four,

saw Mia Perkins, (fresh from invoking darkness ’round a pentagram);

Saw that she knelt over Pepper her black cat,

struck by a car full-of costumed creatures with candy,

and she saw Claudette weep hot tears into the black fur.


At the height of the creeping, sneaking, howling, growling,

wind-snuffed candle, soul-stealing, moon-dimmed night,

Emmy asked, ‘can I pray for your kitty cat? I’m so sorry!’

Wrapped fair, innocent limbs around dark-hearted mourner

on the cool, candy-littered asphalt of Halloween night.


Heavenly host burst forth from the throne room of the King;

from horizon to horizon stars flared up and the moon

burned clouds away; the breeze blew warm. Caverns were sealed,

cages locked, passages shut and hearts lightened. The things of the dark fled

in terror, and in envy of the light as from the beginning.


No human saw but Emmy and Mia; saw that

the battle ended in an instant. Mia set free

as dark things fled and Pepper breathed once more.

Emmy, duly dressed as angel, skipped away nonplussed.

Mia stroked Pepper and pondered these things in her heart.


Christmas in Emergistan! A poem.

Oh Christmas in Emergistan,

a wondrous time of year,

with every pain scale off the chart

and elves a’ swilling beer.


With old folks feeling sad and blue,

and shoppers picking fights,

and psychiatric rooms all full

of strange, disturbing sights.


Oh Christmas in our native land,

is never without fun;

but check the strange guy’s shopping bag,

he might just have a gun!


Christmas in Emergistan,

with Christmas lists specific;

Percocet is nice enough

Dilaudid is terrific!


Sweet Christmas in Emergistan,

with chest pain all around,

where stressful family gatherings

are always to be found.


Dear Santa please don’t pass us by,

who labor in Emergistan,

We need a little Christmas here,

We need a helping hand.


So make the painscales zero

and hide the thongs from view;

Let lives be saved from pain and death,

and help this brave, bold few,


Who day and night do all we can

to help the sick and dying,

And show us how to comfort them

when life has left them crying.


And give us tools and insights,

consultants and rooms sufficient

To save Emergistani folks

from all actions maleficent.


Sweet Christmas in Emergistan,

may every shift be dull,

may naps and card-games rule the night

and snack trays remain full.

For Christmas in Emergistan

is something we must do.

So may it be a thing of peace

for me and all of you.



Dec. 22, 2013

Edwin Leap









The Chest Pain Poem

The chest pain poem

Chest pain coming through the door

Chest pain chest pain, rich or poor

Chest pain after using Meth

Chest pain grieving someon’es death.

Chest pain on the ambulance

Chest pain after high school dance

Chest pain from a frightful punch

Chest pain after spicy lunch.

Chest pain from a nasty fall

Chest pain from an angry call

Chest pain after too much booze

Chest pain on relaxinig cruise.

Chest pain young and chest pain old

Chest pain fever, cough and cold

Chest pain front and chest pain back

Chest pain snorting cooked up crack

Chest pain foreign and domestic

Chest pain sad and some pathetic

Chest pain every day and night

Chest pain sometimes gives a fright.

Chest pain sometimes is quite scary

Traumatic stuff or coronary

Embolus or perforation

Aortic rip or lung infection!

Mostly though it’s not dramatic

Trumped up fears or things bombastic

Muscle strain or indigestion

Struggling with cosmic questions

Young doctors then be circumspectic

When checking patients’ pains thoracic;

Saying that it hurts quite badly

Don’t mean things are really deadly.

Happy Ides of March! A short poetic tribute…


Calpurnia speaks

Poor Caesar had an awful day

Those many years ago,

when in the Senate’s hallowed halls

his noble blood did flow.

The messages he leaves to us

are many and profound;

control your passions, be not proud

don’t throw your weight around.

But one remains, one lesson true

and spoken soft and low;

It’s Mrs. Caesar, hands on hips,

who says, ‘I told you so!’

The Greater Pain Scale


The Greater Pain Scale

On a scale of one to ten,

What is your loneliness?

Think of one as a day when your

Family was out shopping,

Laughing, going to movies, but

You were sick in bed. Ten is

Like everyone you knew

Perished, or decided you were

Worthless and abandoned you.

What about your fear?

Ten is the worst, one is the least.

Be candid; maybe we can help.

One is when you reach

Into your desk drawer and

Find a rubber spider, a ridiculous

Fuzzy black joke that

Makes you fall out of

Your swivel chair while across

The divider coworkers laugh.

Five is the idea that everyone

In the world knows your thoughts,

Knows your hopes and how to

Shatter them. Eight that everyone

Knows what you think of them,

Including her.

Ten is that nothing about you

Is a secret to anyone.

Tell me about your sadness.

Ten is the memory of your

Mother’s drinking that

Left you alone, ranked in value

Behind whiskey, bourbon,

White wine, brandy, and beer.

Five the memory of how your

Lover looked when you betrayed

Her trust on a warm spring night.

One is the realization that swinging at

Recess is a thing lost in the past.

What is your pain? A ten, a one,

Or a zero? But no one is a zero.

Four is your father’s constant absence

When you worshipped him in your

Childhood dreams of perfection.

Eight is the dream you had that

Someone told you to abandon and

That now you wish to God you

Had followed because they are

Far, far away now, but the

Ache remains. Nine is the way

You screamed at your mother once

And left her in tears for no good reason.

Ten is a sick child who

May never be well,

Ten is a psychotic brother who will

Never be well. Ten is the drugs you

Can’t stop, ten is the prison term

You face. Ten is the doubt that

God is, coupled with the certainty

You will face him before long.

One, in the ridiculous scale of doctors,

Is anything like the strain in

Your back, the nail in your foot,

The train running across your arm,

The scalpel in your abscess,

The headache pounding like

Bowling pins in a strike,

The bullet in your chest.

The bigger numbers have

Little to do with the

Corporeal, everything to do

With the ethereal.