Ronnie Hess

Ronnie Hess is a freelance writer who lives in Madison. She began wiriting poetry in Dr. Jean Smith's high school English class in New York City and has studied with Alan Shapiro, Diane Middlebrook, Ron Wallace, Roberta Hill, and Ellen Kort, whom she thanks.

ken haynes photo



Everybody is worried about the weather
The thermometer hovering around zero
The temperatures dancing up a little now
Like a jig a jive a jujube now a little down
My neighbors don’t recognize one another
They’ve bundled up behind big parkas hoods
Scarves they’ve tied around their faces glasses fogged.
This is what we have wished for been waiting for
Winters we remember days before we imagined global
Warming the polar ice caps melting sending cold waves down
The Eastern Seaboard flooding the Middle Banks of
The Mississippi coursing all the way down South.
My old flame from Canada has come to live with us his
House in Manitoba under water who knows when
We will see Atlantis the butcher-block kitchen table
Plaid armchairs entertainment unit sleigh bed again.

Published in 2005 Wisconsin Poets’ Calendar

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I am sorry you only had fifteen minutes and I’m sorry I took longer.
I am sorry that HMO’s don’t give a patient all the time she wants.
I am sorry I am a hypochondriac whose slightest pain today
My left shoulder—you say tendonitis—I take as a clear sign
Of lung cancer ovarian cancer stomach bowel and bladder cancer
Or some other dread disease.

I am sorry but maybe it’s because my father worried—heart attack for him
For us poliomyelitis. The doctor came at us with giant needles filled
With gamma globulin. And probably because his parents died in concentration
Camps and we were all he had but that’s another story you don’t have time for
Especially since you have a cold and there are other sicker patients
In the waiting room.

I am finding aging really difficult and I am really frightened people
I know are dead. My next-door neighbor A who was 55 my age. Or dying.
My mother’s friend B who is 90 from pancreatic cancer. Or battling illness.
My friend C who just had a lumpectomy and D who had one too and
My friend E angioplasty and F bleeding in her brain and G whose PSA
Was elevated even though it turned out it was all a big mistake.

I am sorry I cannot seize the day and glory in the moment and
I am sorry I am graceless when it comes to my mortality and yes
I am sorry I am afraid of airplane crashes caused by some bad weather
Pilot error and I get heartsick every time he comes on the loudspeaker
Saying everything will be all right.

I am sorry I can’t be grateful for good health a good mind sort of energy.
I am sorry I don’t sleep at night don’t take my vitamins calcium tablets
They are too big taste bad give me a headache maybe mad cow disease.

I am sorry because I won’t take hormones I have had no sex
In ages and might wind up with osteoporosis. I am sorry I took hormones
To get pregnant not get pregnant and of course I smoked.
I am sorry that I don’t exercise routinely and I am sorry it is raining.
I am sorry I won’t live forever even though I think I want to or
I just don’t know how to live yet and let go.

Published in Cup of Poems And a Side of Prose, #4, 2002