Three Poems by Patty Summerhays






Editor’s note: This week we present three poems by a poet who left us far too soon. Bourgeon thanks Naomi Thiers for sharing these.

Med Star

Head spinning cockpit, propellers
bouncing off stars. Could use a little
more light tonight. I would invoke God
for this, and if it happened—by what power?
The Siamese homes and barricaded streets, the flesh
in the breath of many night crawlers. Acrobat aristocrats
have seen the tit in the sky run dry of milk. The winds
off course, the batons policemen twirl lost in the hail that
plummets and takes everything down with it. The screeching halt
and skid marks. The salvation of flesh without soul.
Dead on arrival and revived–the flesh now,
the soul will catch up. Pump the flesh. Get a pressure.
Keep the head in alignment. Check the pupils. Step back
for an x-ray breather. Guard the gonads. Get your ass where
your ass belongs, bent over a kingdom. Now do this day in
and day out, hands at high tide. Do this in remembrance of me.

No Code

I hasten to inform him or her
it is just as lucky to die, and I know it. – Walt Whitman

No time to think.
Running to a patient’s room.
One foot in. One foot out.
Heart beat at 40, then 30.
The sense of God
coming, the climax
of death drifting
out of reach.
Two souls feed on each other
while I change the sheets.

Flight to Juarez

One road crosses another,
divides the thick green silt bottom
of fir trees and marsh
into a map worn at the folds.
In Tennessee,
every drop of the river
blends with water
as far away as Yellowstone.
I move in the direction of soil
worn from its banks.
How I will wish
for the order of things,
the square, plotted fields
one row after another,
rivers that feed the Mississippi
but keep enough
to flow on their own.
It is water
that teaches me
this route of survival:
to give away what I can live without.


Note from Naomi Thiers: Patty Summerhays was a talented poet who died from colon cancer in 2009. She was active in the poetry scene at George Mason University (where she edited Phoebe) and in Northern VA, as well as raising 2 sons. Patty was an intensive care nurse at Washington Hospital Center and did health care work in Mexico and Guatemala; she was a fighter for homeless people in Central America. Patty was a close friend of mine for many years; I’ll never stop enjoying “Med Star” and her other poems.

Image by Antonio de Bellis – Œuvre appartenant au Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon Photographe Mathilde Hospital, CC BY-SA 4.0,

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