This is the literary weblog of Jeffrey W. Hull, M.D., a pediatrician. It is intended mainly as a place to maintain a collection of poetry created for the enjoyment of a few friends and as an archive for my family. All material is protected by US copyright.

Jeffrey Hull

Friday, March 25, 2005

Half Magic

There was a boy who found a magic coin,
   An elfin charm which granted one's desire,
But to this boon a devilish quirk did join:
   It granted half, but not the wish entire.

He wished himself a tropic desert isle
   And straightway found himself on lonely land —
But searched in vain for water, all the while
   Around him lay a sea of burning sand.

And wishing for a trove of coins of gold
   Brought only sacks of fake doubloons of lead;
Whatever thing he wished for, I am told,
   He got the lesser part of it instead.

It came to pass I found that selfsame charm.
   I made my fervent wish to win your heart,
And half of your resistance did disarm —
   But now it seems I won the colder part.

© 2005 Jeffrey Hull

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Theresa Marie

Whose heart is this that beats within a breast
Grown thin, these years of sad reclining night?
Whose lungs are these, that breathe at whose behest,
Whose eyes gaze forth with eerie distant sight?
If dwells a soul behind that roving eye,
It apprehends what purpose in this twist,
That now a soul's required to supply
Some justifying reason to exist?

But if this body sleeps, and suffers not,
What earthly law or heavenly command
Demands it should now bear starvation's lot,
The seal of life or death a wedding band?
For if it now be Mercy's mark to kill —
God help us when the Devil gives his bill.

© 2005 Jeffrey Hull

Friday, March 18, 2005

Sunday Drive

The Tennessee is winter level low,
   And worn old stumps from New Deal days poke through
The dirty flats of mud that stretch below
   The bridge and out across the river slough.

The sallow clouds slouch drooping in their place
   Above the fallow fields that silent doze,
A three day beard of stubble on the face
   Of land bedecked in threadbare winter clothes.

At last, the place where rows of marble trees
   An orchard make, where rests a little boy
Who early sleeps, whose eye no longer sees,
   Whose mother's heart has passed from earthly joy.

So many pitfalls lurk! Astride their bikes,
   Or by the water's edge, dark forces wait
In deadly ambush for the carefree tykes
   So gently drawn too close, and snatched by fate.

The preacher said, God purified his sin
   Baptismally, but thinking back of him
The only fault we could surmise within
   Was maybe that at three, he could not swim.

And so he sleeps beneath the gray-hung sky
   Awaiting with the land the coming spring
And promised resurrection by and by —
   Beyond all longing, guilt, and sorrowing.

© 2005 Jeffrey Hull

Tuesday, March 15, 2005


What are you saying?
   Now I must go.
Heartless betraying!
   What do I owe?

Why did you flirt so?
   Fire burns hot.
Why does it hurt so?
   How can it not?

How it will grieve me!
   What can I say?
How can you leave me?
   How can I stay?

© 2005 Jeffrey Hull

Rich Cohen overheard snatches of a conversation next door and surmised what was going on. It inspired this short piece, which was a little experiment in meter and spare expression.
One speaker uses one meter: DUH duh duh DUH duh
which ends on an unstressed syllable (a "feminine" ending)
And the other uses a shorter line: DUH duh duh DUH
which ends on a stress (a "masculine" ending, if you will)
So the meter tells us that very clearly that the conversation is between two persons, one of whom is leaving the other. The "swing" to the words almost begs to be set to music as a song lyric, obviously to be sung by a male-female duet.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Boatbuilding and Life

A reflection on parallels in life.

I Once Built Boats

I once built boats to pass the time
   Or better said, the boats built me;
At workday's end aboard I'd climb,
   In quiet backyard reverie.

The boat erect on sawhorse stood,
   The object dear of all my toils;
The curling hiss of plane on wood
   Dropped fragrant heaps of fresh-cut coils

And humming bandsaw coaxed from wood
   The complex shapes that make a boat,
To fit exactly as they should,
   And strike the proper shipshape note.

And sometimes in the quiet night
   I'd stop to savor every curve
By hand or eye in pure delight
   That beauty can such function serve,

And piece by piece the form emerged
   From nails and clamps and glue and wood,
As character and work converged
   To form my life for ill or good.

For every life and every boat
   Are children of our dreams at play,
And life well-lived or craft afloat
   Is never built in just a day.

© 2005 Jeffrey Hull

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

In Memoriam

On a more serious note, a reflection on insensitivity and unthinking cruelty.

In Memoriam

Can't quite remember him or who he was,
   That face now missing that we scarce recall;
We'll say, "Let’s send a card," though no one does,
   And no one gives his family a call ...

Or was he even married? Is there a wife,
   Or better put, a widow who's bereaved,
Or anyone at all who mourns this life
   That desperate anonymity achieved?

His spirit slipped dimensionless between
   The atoms of our adamantine hearts;
He passed, and like some spectre was unseen
   And missed no more than when a cloud departs.

His loneliness he must have learned to numb;
   I know if I were he that it would gall
To see us toss his memory a crumb:
   It's best we not remember him at all.

© 2005 Jeffrey Hull

Friday, March 04, 2005

This one is a favorite with the girls in the office. A lighter tone to kick off a good weekend.

Garage Sale

I'm holding a garage sale in my heart:
   I'm marking down, and everything must go.
Just make a bid at my Emotion Mart—
   My maudlin mopes will get the old heave-ho.

Some someone that I knew has hit the road
   And cleaned out half the stuff in this old chest;
Since what remains will likely just corrode
   It makes more sense to sell off all the rest.

Then maybe when the place is emptied out
   I’ll decorate again in other hues,
And paper over scars—no need to pout
   About the way we all must pay love’s dues.

Affections barely worn can be reused
   For découpaging hearts, or macramé;
No reasonable cash or trade refused,
   So stop by any time, we're here all day.

© 2005 Jeffrey Hull

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Statute of Limitations

A midweek post. This was inspired by an essay in Gordon Livingston's book, Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart. The title fits me to a "T," for sure. A recommended book for seekers of happiness. The subtitle, "Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now," is apropos.

Statute of Limitations

The statute long ago expired
   On most parental perfidies
Which in our childhoods have transpired—
   In teenage years—especially these.

And time has likewise run on that
   Which happened long ago in love;
Don't perch on ancient slight or spat
   Like some offended mourning dove.

Let go of things you cannot change:
   The moving finger long since wrote.
Things done refuse to rearrange—
   Your efforts ring a sour note.

To live in some disgruntled past
   Of real or fancied former wrong
Crowds out good memories that last,
   And better in the heart belong.

© 2005 Jeffrey Hull
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