Poem from the ICU

A rejection slip from an online poetry journal disappointed me a little today. The main poem in the small set came from a nursing story Debbie brought home from work. There are certainly other journals that might take it, however I’d like to share it here. Enjoy.



The nurse approached the bed,
laid a hand on slackened skin.
She made her touch feather-light
so as not to bruise.
“I came to say goodbye,”
she told her sweet patient
who wanted to be no trouble,
whose ailment was not
a self-inflicted wound,
nor her body
a basket of poor decisions,
rather a common gift from God.
“But I thought you
were taking me home,”
the patient told the nurse’s heart.
Home is where the heart is.
Where, we say. As if
location were all that mattered.

Devon Marsh
December 11, 2015

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A Poem from Vacation

A weekend trip to a favorite cabin on the New River resulted in some nice photographs and at least one poem. A Day on the Oldest River is a snapshot of sorts. It captures a day when the kids are at an age that allows us to engage in activities together and make plans to do things like this again and again, even though we know life carries us past any particular moment as relentlessly as a river.


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Thoughts on Controversy

We’ve had an awful lot of controversy over a variety of topics for quite a while. A few of the subjects transformed almost overnight in light of recent events. An essay I wrote this week, Stand in the Light, tells what I think about all the controversy. No one subject in particular, just controversy in general, why we get drawn into supporting some things against our better judgment, and encouragement to think about how we think about things. Maybe it can help us deal with other subjects better than we have dealt with those that have dominated the news in recent weeks.

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A Quantum of Poetry

The fourteenth of February is, of course, Valentine’s Day. The fourteenth of next month is Pi Day (3.14). It is also Albert Einstein’s birthday. Einstein developed his general and special theories of relativity before the advent of quantum physics. That set of ideas jostled some of his own, and he never quite bought into certain aspects of quantum theory. The idea of entanglement, for example, seems to defy the speed of light as the absolute speed limit of the universe. Einstein dismissed entanglement, but he could neither deny it nor explain it. In some ways, entanglement is like the emotion we celebrate on February 14th. I can’t explain love, but I feel it acting instantly at a distance, no matter where my wife might be as she and I move about our universe of work and errands and kids’ activities. Here’s a Valentine’s Day poem that acknowledges how fundamental love is, and how inexplicable.


The man we think
should know
called it spooky.
And he called it
action, acting
at a distance.
But it’s not
acting. It is being
at a distance,
and right here.
It has no need
to travel
at any speed.
Not faster than
light. Breaking
no laws, it just
is. As love is,
existing here
and on the far side
of the universe,
in both places
at once. Where
I am, and certainly
where you are.

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Use Your Own Voice

When I was a midshipman at the Naval Academy in the 1980s, my classmates and I had to memorize the Academy’s honor concept. It has changed over the years due to scandals and periods of thoughtful reflection that followed those upheavals. In it current form, the honor concept includes a passage that says of Midshipmen: “They ensure that work submitted as their own is their own, and that assistance received from any source is authorized and properly documented. ”

That is a more explicit statement about plagiarism and originality than we had to memorize in my day. Nevertheless, we got the point. I thought it was almost common sense. My high school teachers had emphasized the importance of original work and the need to give proper attribution to the work of others.

Like so many things, I have come to learn that respect for the work of others is not common sense. Some unfortunate people who have made it quite far in the workplace will seize upon the work of others if they believe they can get away with it. I encountered someone like this in the course of an interview process. The resulting essay describes the experience.

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A Few Poems

Exactly a year has passed since my last post in this blog. Fortunately, three online journals have given me some news to share. Four of my poems –“Cold Truth,” “Lost Things Are,” “Disappearing Ways,” and “Museum”—appeared in the Fall/Winter 2014 edition of The Tower Journal. My poem “Thermodynamics” appeared in a November 19th post in The Penmen Review. And just this week, a poem titled “Lucky Place” appeared in the December 2014 edition of the web journal The Lake, published out of England. I am grateful to the editors of these fine publications for selecting my work. Please take a look, and spend some time enjoying the other writing featured on these sites. My poems are in good company.

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Radio Essay

I was pleased today to hear our local NPR affiliate broadcast my story of a flight I piloted to the North Pole. The recording experience at the WFDD studio was fun, the producer coached me well and edited the story nicely, and recounting the experience brought back good memories. Please follow this link to hear the story for yourself.

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