Systems Check

The Writer, Vernon Wade

Vernon Wade is a poet, author and freelancer. He has been published in The Gorge Literary Journal, Dualsport Rider Magazine, Hack’d Magazine, The Sidecarist, ROB Magazine and The Hood River News.

The world fills him with wonder.  When he looks at the sky he is lifted into flights of fancy, when he stares at the earth he is drawn beneath its surface. He is delighted to find the macrocosm and the microcosm equally mesmerizing.

I walk out under a dark blue, faintly luminescent sky

The moon, one day past full, shines down on the hot tub

My morning routine has become an anti-viral

struggle against the pandemic



Systems check:

Water clear, thin islands of bubbles, 103 degrees, check

faint odor of bromine, check

I still have my sense of smell, check


I slip into the tub, sliding down until the water reaches my ears,

my head tilted back so the bottom of my chin just touches the water

the beginning of my thirty-minute soak

in a dilute bleach solution


Systems check:

Submerge completely, so face and hair are soaked, check

Mentally examine each limb,

abdomen, crotch, lungs, no pain, check

Shoulder and back do not ache,

made it through the night without anti-inflammatories, check


Here and there a bright star winks;

most are washed out by the glare of the moon.

I turn my back on it, facing east

a dog is barking somewhere over there.

It’s good to hear it bark.



Systems check:

Breathing exercises, inhale, hold, exhale(one)



Breathing, unobstructed, pain free, check

no coughing, check


I continue breathing deeply, counting each breath

inhale, hold, exhale (four)




Systems check:

my mind wanders. I was asked to identify truffles,

a fungus I have only passing familiarity with.

Distracted, base level of anxiety, check

not fully preoccupied with pandemic threat, check


I turn around and face the moon,

shining through the oaks, white,

bright as a bare bulb, yet somehow comforting

the dog has stopped barking

nightbirds call to each other

It’s good to hear them sing

I sip my tea


Systems check:

The tea is strong, black, bitter and aromatic.

the temperature is perfect,

hot, just shy of scalding.

I still have my sense of taste, check

The moon, birds, the crisp still air, the warm, comforting soak

I still have my sense of enjoyment


Somewhere in the distance, an orchard fan throbs

Not loud, not obtrusive, but rhythmic

I climb dripping from the tub and stand naked in the cool air,

glistening in the moonlight

A rooster crows,

It’s good to hear it crow.




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1 Comment

  1. paul b

    Pure wonderment is alive. It was lost in the boy. It was as if the vision was lost from that one star I saw with you.


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