Nick Vafiadis is an editor and writer for SATELLITE, an arts
and culture journal based out of Houston Texas (USA). He
enjoys chicken nuggets, bad poetry, and jazz.

Thinking about Ezekiel 16:6 in the E.R. waiting room at Houston Methodist

You'd think it's a joke or something right?
But there is actually a waiting room, in the emergency wing.
I dunno, at least I thought it was kind of funny,
Lying there in the middle of the night, for the third time this month

And to their credit, they did at least go through the trouble
Of hanging some translucent flowing floral thing, between
You and the 60 or so others waiting,
So that the only thing you have to look at besides
The wailing nine-fingered woman across from you, is the T.V.
— which currently, almost irreverently, is playing some cartoon with
Fat little yellow men burping in a conga line, and over the pain in your ulcered
Guts, which you're positive would constitute the 10th frowny
Face on the laminated scale beside you, you begin to
Feel like God's put a bee under your own bonnet.
Until you remember your New Year's resolution from a few weeks ago
Not to take yourself so seriously. And then you started trying to write again
And now you're here again, trudging the trunk of ornate heirloom prayers
Through the valley of this, and the shadow of that, almost see-through from your
Last fit of rainy day enthusiasm, or as mom calls it 'faith'.

Hearing the night nurse give some guy a six hour wait estimate,
I pinch my eyelids together, pretending to be back in the
Inky quiet of my girlfriend's bed. Don't worry, I know.
I threw all that in with the rest of the worldly collateral for Jesus.
It's just that it was the only thing that ever felt close to something like
Sleep or peace. I could never sleep, not like my father who
Started snoring in his chair after the first few hours of our waiting,
Or my girlfriend, who like my father has always gone to church,
And held a job, and paid taxes, and slept like a baby.

I get this weird Freudian chill thinking how similar they are.
How similar everyone seems to be, and my own typicality,
Picking for the sake of picking, afraid of blood and puss, and
The red hot angry insides of everyone, tranquilized under
Skin like some tawny wet quilt of sinew and coagulated grease.
I think I want to be shell, and hard, and smooth, and line.
I want to be armor, and wing, and blade, and fast, and start, and done.
The bored Dr. lances the lady's glugging stump.

Out of the Sky

When the last half lidded nurse came by, he told her,
"I flew planes in WWII"
"Geronimo's wife was a family friend"
"They cheated me out of a 20% share of Levi Strauss"
"I saw Marilyn Monroe in a tent once ..."
Even Mary, the speech therapist, got a laugh out of that one.

"Why don't we start with smaller stuff?" she said.
"Ok baby" Hal replied with half a lip.
The thing about the planes was true, Mom told me
He used to sit backwards in the cockpit,
Keeping watch out the other end.
"Make your mouth into something round.
Get your chest going low and warm like a steady fire
And push it out through the roundness like this —
OOOOooo OOOooo ..." Moving subsonic
In a direction you couldn't see, I always imagined
It'd feel like being pulled out of the sky
Rather than flying into it


Tommy, 54, pack a day smoker
Bartender at T.G.I. Friday's
Pulls his thin hair back into a greasy ponytail before work.
Been this way for a while, since Mamma Joy got Parkinson's.
Daddy Bob is fine for an 80 year old, but can't take care
Like Tommy, who's still got something sharp to him,
Who's still quick on his feet, and can make a mean martini.
Tommy's a functioning alcoholic, ya, big deal.
But he can make breakfast, coffee, lunch.
He can find Eddie Arnold on his computer for his parents

Daddy Bob won't let Tommy do his tie
But Tommy can clasp Mamma Joy's pearls like a circuit
And tell the best jokes to his nieces and nephews at
The family get-togethers

One nephew, Graham, studies acting at Julliard.
He gets his drive from his mother Jenny,
Tommy's sister, an executive at Shell.
Jenny's got leukemia, but she's powering through.
Jenny utilizes positive thinking, Tommy wishes her the best. Tommy knows Jenny will be fine.

Tommy's other sister Roxanne
Teaches physics at the best high school in Houston.
Roxanne's husband is unemployed for now. Roxanne will
Do alright too.

Tommy wears Hawaiian shirts
That show his scrawny red chest
And he parks his car next to his sister's Mercedes
And Jaguar at the birthday parties.
Tommy's got less resentment in his heart
Than five year olds. He's got his own joys and endurance.
He's got his own ambition. He can take a joke

The only time Tommy thinks about God
Is when he's parked at the Jewish community center at night
For a smoke. Daddy Bob went cold turkey on the stuff
Shortly after the war. Daddy Bob
Still stands like a man when he walks in a room.
Still shocks his voice with 50's vigor
Still gets on Tommy about his posture

The last time I saw Tommy
Was at a country club with his family
Having a bagel and lox with a doubles-shot bloody Mary
At 11 in the morning. His sister Jenny
Had a du-rag on. Her last surgery
Had been a success. She read us
Something from the bible about Samson.
Did you know that Samson had his eyes gouged out
After Delilah seduced him for the seventh time?
And afterwards the king made him his fool
And Samson pulled down the palace columns
And killed hundreds of people.

I didn't know that in Sunday school
When I colored pictures of Samson by numbers.
Tommy found this amusing.
When we were talking by the man made lake
With the golf courses around. "Hey" Tommy said to me
"Do you know what God's name is?"
"No Tommy, I sure don't"
That was funny, I guess, if you were a Baptist
And even though I didn't believe in much at all,
I remember saying a prayer for Tommy,
That I'd see him again one day in the place
Where God puts the people who don't know where to go


Before English was understood, there was

A voice in the fish tank

When words were tactile like cheerios on the carpet

Of your parents first apartment

You felt them smiling behind your back

As you watched the spaces between TV pixels

Growing smaller over the years

They remember you

Monet painted pale red and blue Saturday mornings for you

Where you'd wake to the sound of your father in the garage

Sawing fresh white planks to the sound of zydeco

One time he closed the car door on your arm

Salty green play-doh was your favorite

The doctor said your arm was fine, cause your bones were still just jelly

There was a white 1990-something accord

A crayon got left in the back seat and melted

It remembers you

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