William Taylor Jr.: “Little Windows and the People Behind”





Little Windows and the People Behind

They finally fixed my busted heart with a brand new 
robot valve and after a week in the ICU I’m well enough 
to be moved into a regular room.

The other bed is empty
so I have the place to myself .

From the hallways and other rooms I hear 
the sounds of people vomiting and moaning, 
bargaining with gods they don’t believe in, 

asking the nurses when they can go home 
or how long they have to wait before 
they can take their meds again.

I have a little chair and table by a window 
overlooking Geary Street and if the people
below look up they can see me here

gazing at crows resting on the tops of streetlamps
reading an old Sherwood Anderson novel that nobody remembers
breathing in and out and marveling at the fact of it.

The nurses bring me drugs and jello of myriad colors.

Countless days I’ve passed this building
on my way to the store or somewhere and I’ve always 
glanced up at the little windows and imagine 
the people behind, feeling both afraid of and for them.

And now here I am, one of the window people
sitting with my laptop writing the first 
draft of my first hospital poem.

I wave down to the sidewalk folk,
give them a thumbs up to let them know
that things are alright, and it’s not so bad 
except for the food.



About the Author: William Taylor Jr. lives and writes in the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco.  He is the author of numerous books of poetry, and a volume of fiction. His work has been published widely in journals across the globe, including Rattle, The New York Quarterly, and The American Journal of Poetry. He is a five time Pushcart Prize nominee and was a recipient of the 2013 Kathy Acker Award. Pretty Words to Say, (Six Ft. Swells Press, 2020) is his latest collection of poetry.


More by William Taylor Jr.

“The Fire of Now”

“One of Pessoa’s Ghosts”


Image Credit:  Gottscho-Schleisner, Inc. “Triboro Hospital for Tuberculosis, Parsons Blvd., Jamaica, New York. Typical six-bed ward, to balcony” (1940) Image Courtesy of the Library of Congress

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