Published on December 3rd, 2015 | by Justin Hovey


“The Night Before Call” by J. Hovey

“The Night Before Call”

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the hall

Not a pager was beeping not even for call,

The labs coats were hung on hooks with care

In the hopes that an empty ER would soon be there.

Diabetics were all snug in their beds

While visions of insulin danced in their heads.

And I in my scrubs,

And my patients in masks

Had just settled in for a long winter’s nap.

When out in the ER rose such a clatter,

I sprang from my stretcher to see what was the matter.

Away to the ER I flew like a flash,

I threw open the doors and dropped coffee with a splash

The buzzing fluorescent lights on the cold tile floors

Gave a sense of midday luster to patients all in a row.

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,

But a large gurney and eight shiny nurses

With a fat, little man so quiet and sick,

I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

More rapid than eagles, the nurses, they came

And the charge nurse shouted and called them by name:

Now Daisy! Now Danny! Now Paul and Vicky!

On Candy! On Sandy! On Donna and Bessy!

To the head of the bed! To the suction on the wall!

Now, compress away! Compress away! Compress away all!

Like a wild hurricane blowing across PCB with ferocity,

The nurses, they met the obstacles of adipose and death with tenacity

So, up to the ventilator the therapist flew,

With the gurney full of wires and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the ventilator

The beeping of the buttons that did not stop the rancor

I drew up the epinephrine, and was turning around

When St. Nicholas sat up with a bound.

The years of obesity aged him great

From his head to his feet diabetes had altered his fate.

With his ragged appearance and hunched-over back,

He looked like a peddler holding his pack.

His eyes began to twinkle and he smiled with merry

His cheeks blossomed like roses, his nose like a cherry!

His droll mouth was wrinkled from years of smoke

And his beard stained from the tobacco he toked

He had a large face and a big fat belly

That shook when he coughed like a bowl full of jelly.

He was tired and drunk, a right jolly old fellow

And when he laughed, showed few teeth, cracked and yellow

He reached for his pipe and jumped to his feet

Scuttled for the door, and out into the street

Clutching his pacemaker, he gave a nod and a whistle

And away in his Caddy as quietly as the down of a thistle.

I must have been dreaming, but as he rode out of sight

I heard him exclaim,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”


-Justin Hovey

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