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C.N.P Poetry 

Till Death Do Us Part; Atrial Flutter

By: Gerry Hendershot

Till Death Do Us Part

He stands at the ironing

board starching the collar

of a white shirt for church;

she sits and reads aloud Sunday’s

lectionary about Jesus cleansing 

the Temple.  He thinks of their fight

the night before last--they haven’t

spoken since; both had been almost dead

drunk, he on gin and she on wine.

You’re a worthless creature, she had hissed,

and he believed it, as she came at him,

manicured nails of both hands aimed at his eyes.

He pinned her arms at both sides to protect

her from hurting him, until she sobbed and

staggered off, then he passed out on the couch.

Anger, he thinks, like love, has evolutionary

value and biblical sanction, as he buttons

the shirt, knots his tie, and dons a navy blue jacket.

At the open front door, she stands silently before him,

looks him up and down, then slowly raises both hands

to adjust his jacket, straighten his tie, caress his cheek.


Atrial Flutter

I never thought a lot about my heart:

it was dependable, I guess, never skipped

a beat, quickened with the passing

of a pretty girl, thumped with fear nearing 

the podium—that de rigueur leap to my throat.

All textbook stuff, of none but momentary

interest; until I consulted Pete, 

as I refer to him privately.

Dr. Peter Popolowski, cardiologist, 

diagnosed atrial flutter, causing one chamber’s

poor performance: not cooperating with its mate

by pumping the expected volume of blood at the

precise moment it is needed, it sloppily squishes

an uncertain amount at random, confusing

its partner, and threatening other delicate

organs, including my vulnerable brain.

But my heart’s not in this poem.

And you’re probably bored to 

death.  What will warm your heart,

though, is the toddler in the art

museum atrium, wearing a plaid

skirt over purple tights, 

pondering the rectangular 

pond spread before her, 

tentatively lifting one Mary Jane

and lowering it to the water, 

delighted she can walk on it, 

like Jesus, followed by splash,

splash-splash, splash-splash-splash,

clapping, laughing, heart fluttering

dove-like upward, as she cries Mommy, 

Mommy! Look at me, look at me!


Gerry Hendershot is an 82 year old retired professor (health statistics) who began writing poetry seriously in 2014. His work has been published is local newsletters and shared in many workshops. His work often reflects a "tragic sense of life (Unamuno)." He lives in University Park, Maryland.


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