Waiting …


They tried too hard, made the hallways smell like lemons,

With floral prints and blessed sayings to hide the acrylic resins

Amidst the polystyrene squares above, with blind luminescence,

this cold empty feeling I couldn’t shake, had exposed to me its senescence


My eyes were bloodshot like I’ve cried on these floors before,

The clock, with clock hands splintered, was uncared for and worn.

The trek of priests on tiresome feet, ones who bore the sacrament of prayer

Pirated where no one dares to look up in fear of seeing their doctor’s despair.


If melancholy looks could justifiably conflagrate into holes,

Then those tears wept in silence would burn hotter than coals

So many gunshots come through, so many holes, one scythed through some vertebrae,

One was betrayed by the alleyway where the worst shadows play—


Sad for her, she was taken away today, and we prayed for her fiance

across the unkind overlays, DNA from her parents eyes still laid.

I traded nervous smiles with the quiet ward newcomers today,

My knuckles crack aggressively like uncanny thunder strafes.


Users and abusers fall through the oft used sliding doors, their veins freshly torn

The homeless arrive in droves, coming to absorb the heat like a blanket worn.

Here we were swathed in silence, while the dense echo of the screens beep,

Asleep are the siblings; sagged in their parents keep—


Last breaths from the freshly dead and sad miens often creep,

The reaper draws closer each room, and continues his assignment to reap.

And like a staccato chorus of dysfunctional drummers offbeat,

The waiting room was stockpiled to the ceilings with impatiently tapping feet.


And the monitors beeped and beeped, echoing louder and louder,

grooming the sanity of the room, as the ensuing hours were devoured.

And time was dismantled down to the seconds while we impatiently waited

So late, that we deflate into our seats; to peer into what the next part of our fate is.


I stay lumped into that gelid space, all choked up, twisting and knotting my hands

As if me doing so would hold the tumult away from all of God’s plan

But I’m up now and pacing, and have seen the same person twice,

So I went strolling for a soda from the machine, and a small cup of ice.


I journeyed back to those tenuously padded chairs of no solace,

The dampish dewdrops from my drink  descending in small dollops,

Our often unreliable phone bars departing us, searching for service

with a surplus of clamor making the lingered room quite nervous


The hallways from the waiting room, adjoining to the snack machines—

Were spotty cleaned and tacked up with paintings of tawdry and benign scenes,

I know they were meant to uplift those stuck down in the deepest ravines,

But needless to say this was not that scene, nor was it expected by any means.


As the doors to the hospital catapulted wide open, with medics in route

A gurney real bloody came rocketing by with a soul spread about.

Her oculi were rolled up skyward, and she must have blacked out,

Her parents came running in, in uproars, and having their doubts


The pristine outfits of blues and whites, came rushing to her side,

Unlike the hungry legal leeches, they were there to provide.

As ruckus unfolded in this small room then  quietly subsides

then 10 minutes later, and in a manner so vile, the quiet replied.


The looks of disgust as the surgeon’s tore their dust masks away,

It was a look as though their often perfect hands were meant to betray.

As mouths were dropped in torment, and smiles, now frowns, had hit the floor,

The guttural shrieks of such sadness released, was one I had not heard before.


The doctors said to the girl’s mother, that no more could be done,

And in the waiting room our tapping feet in crescendo, sped up to a run.

Those once encouraging smiles attenuated to fear and doubt

As we were all in a panic of that split second of what they talked about.


Again came the ramshackle priest looking tired and worn

As though the moment was like clockwork and he came to perform.

His robe it was sodden, to his shoulders where they grieved

He said to the crying, that her pain was now gone, like that gave them relief.


In a tucked away corner, by a TV, came the widow’s lament,

Appalled by the update she was given, in tears of dissent

The other corner was diametric to sorrow’s descent

Their reaction came soaring like Elysian ascent


As their masks came right off, the doctors couldn’t help but smile

The parents sat there exultant, unable to hold back their soul’s beguile,

But I was still here, stuck, in limbo’s allotted aisle, alone and anxious

The antiseptic air filled my nostrils with what seems an adapted canvas—


Or was that bleach, too hard to tell, it still didn’t clear up the stuffy air,

I didn’t care much anymore; I was ensnared by all these sad affairs

Engaged in their tragedy, enraptured by their disregard for chance

Not compassionate of their circumstance, just their sad lack of plans


I had to keep my mind off of everything, so I listened intently,

to all the gripping sounds the hospital makes, its choral assembly,

the oft beeping heart rates, to the droning sounds of TV fanfare,

to the flies on the walls buzzing away, because the silence is always there.


I’d been here for a while, my phone bars a thing of the past,

Incessantly beeping, the monitors blared, until they shut off at last

Abruptly the floral smell faded, and the room lights slowly dimmed,

I woke up to my wife there, my kids with no cares, my breath full of wind


I squinted my eyes for a second, unaware of what happened

Adapting to the situation, and that damn beeping so distracting

I asked for that ramshackle priest, the one so often in the hallway

When he saw me, he nodded and said, “I prayed for you in silence today.”


I told him my circumstance, how my cousin had broken his ankle,

How his surgery was up next, and his dreams were in shambles

Division one colleges, so enthusiastic, now scrambled,

How his life was now on hold and his future surely cancelled


I was so perplexed of what to do next, unsure of what to expect,

I felt though possessed, my head filled with stress, too many regrets,

The effects of this stress, I was so incensed, the reaper’s caress,

The weight off my chest, my mind in a bind, the world up against.


The moment when I fainted, I Thank God for the suits

The men and women of blue and white, they were so resolute

Their care for humanity, was a thing worthy of repute,

Through all the smells of the hospital, to those medics, I salute.

Paul Neglia

Proud father of 3. Part time writer of poetry and short stories. I want to paint the world in but a few words.
Paul Neglia

Latest posts by Paul Neglia (see all)


Paul Neglia

Proud father of 3. Part time writer of poetry and short stories. I want to paint the world in but a few words.

7 thoughts on “Waiting

  • October 18, 2018 at 8:36 PM

    You couldn’t have painted a better picture of the tenseness of a hospital waiting room. I’ve been through that scene a few times myself, the smells, sounds, pain, screams, hollering, blood, uncertainty and so much more. The air is always heavy in the waiting room, it stifles me, my senses often become blurred with the scenery. The medics, the trolleys, emergency calls, police, nurses, doctors, all working together to help an inbound patient. Trying their best to offer comfort, care, empathetic professional advice. I’m a fan of Chicago Med, just watching your amazing twist on words, placing them all in perfect order so a person can feel and see what you do. Great work my friend, Bravo..loved the rhyme too.

    • October 19, 2018 at 7:40 AM

      I hate hospitals, though they do some miraculous things there, the atmosphere feels so dense like you can cut the air with a knife. I am the sale way it is such a confining feeling sittings in that chair waiting on the news of a loved one. Thank you so much for your kind words my friend. Much appreciation.

  • October 18, 2018 at 10:43 PM

    Well do I remember long hours waiting, jumping each time a door opened. You have a great piece here, Paul, with all the right phrases stirring the emotions. Well done dear friend.

    • October 19, 2018 at 7:51 AM

      Thank you so much Phyllis. I am unfortunately visiting hospitals at a way more frequent rate than I wanted to. Both my wife’s parents and my parents are getting up in age so hospital visits have become a sad reality. Thank you again

  • October 19, 2018 at 3:30 AM

    Great piece Paul which unfortunately brought back why I hate hospital waiting rooms. haha, I do hope this piece was not penned from a recent visit on your part.

    • October 19, 2018 at 7:54 AM

      Kurt I am in agreement with you, I hate hospitals, but there is just so much sensory overload there, i had to write about it. It’s stuffy as hell in there yet at the same time so cold. Unfortunately I was a recent visitor to the hospital for my mother-in-law, that is what brought back memories of too many hospital visits. Thank you so much for your kind words my friend. Much appreciated

  • October 20, 2018 at 12:16 AM

    Beautifully penned Paul, that feeling in those waiting rooms as all the souls present, with their unique stories and concerns, wait. After my daughter died many years ago, I could not go near a hospital for many years. Those smells and feeling just rushed back. Great work my friend, as always wonderful use of language. Kudos.


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