The Gangster Nurse

“I had to make something of myself”
He had tattoos and a shaved head
His past was more than a memory
It was a life that that almost left him for dead
As I let him stick the needle in
I felt no pain while I measured his pride
My indifference was for a moment forgotten
As I considered his leap across the great divide

“Pull yourself up by your bootstraps”
Mere words spoken easily on a sunny day
Should a man define himself by his possessions
Or the distance traveled to find his way?
The gates of hell were made known to me
As the pardoned ghetto rat walked my way
In his calm moment he spoke as if he had seen God
And reminded of the blessings we throw away

“Honor your mother and your father”
His child wanted to climb only one family tree
He carried the mark of brown and white
And wondered which one he should be
But there is no choice to make
It is the life of a half-breed
And the gangster nurse knew
The pain his choices would breed

“Oh so now you’re too good for us”
His future was as uncertain as his past
But in the wisdom of the violence he had vanquished
He knew it was time to stop the legacy at last
The man with the face of America’s fear
Said goodbye to the people who had his back
In his hands were the eyes looking for a father
And in his words was the courage that I lack



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Comments 9 comments

MsLofton profile image

MsLofton 4 years ago from IL

This was interesting and beautiful at the same time...


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 4 years ago from TEXAS

Awesome poem, Mark. Awesome.


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina

I had to read it because the title caught my attention. Wonderful work here. Thanks for sharing! Two thumbs up and a Vote up as well. :)


The Suburban Poet profile image

The Suburban Poet 4 years ago from Austin, Texas Author

I went to get an annual check-up and the nurse was a young man maned Sal. He was very olive skinned and had the shaved head as I mentioned in the piece. No biggie... then as he asked me normal questions about my health I noticed his tattoos. Then he read my bio and said, "Hey are you Cuban?" And I said yes. He was from Mexico and then had lived in LA (we're both in Austin, Texas now). I mentioned how I never knew how to fill out the demographic questions; I look white but I'm 50% Cuban. So we started talking and his story came out. Yes he was a gangster and he left it behind and is now the person in the doctors office who takes your blood, your blood pressure and the like. I was proud of him.... it was a great few minutes.

@MsLofton - Thank you!

@Nellieanna - sometimes you give me such long thoughtful responses but this response is very gratifying to me.

@Denise - Thank you for reading and commenting on FB too!


rahul0324 profile image

rahul0324 4 years ago from Gurgaon, India

you told a fantastic story here by words poetic words


The Suburban Poet profile image

The Suburban Poet 4 years ago from Austin, Texas Author

@rahul - Thanks man. I was touched by his ambition to better himself. It was an awesome life story.


raciniwa profile image

raciniwa 4 years ago from Naga City, Cebu

great story you have here Mark, and it amazes me the you have woven it well...


The Suburban Poet profile image

The Suburban Poet 4 years ago from Austin, Texas Author

Thank you raciniwa.... it touched me to see him trying to better his life.


The Suburban Poet profile image

The Suburban Poet 4 years ago from Austin, Texas Author

Thank you raciniwa.... it touched me to see him trying to better his life.

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