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About this poet

E. M. Schorb has published several collections of poetry, including Time and Fevers: New and Selected Poems (AuthorsHouse, 2004), which was chosen as a 2007 Eric Hoffer Book Award winner; A Fable & Other Prose Poems (2002), Murderer's Day (1998), winner of the Verna Emery Poetry Prize; 50 Poems (1987); and The Poor Boy and Other Poems (1975); and a chapbook, Like the Fall of Rome and Other Humanitarian Disasters (1980).

He is also the author of two novels: Paradise Square, which won the International eBook Award Foundation's Frankfurt eBook Award for "Best Fiction work originally published in eBook form," and Scenario for Scorsese (both Denlinger's Publishers, 2000).

His poems and prose have appeared in Best American Fantasy 2007, as well as The American Scholar, The Beloit Poetry Journal, The Chattahoochee Review, Chelsea, The Literary Review, The Massachusetts Review, The Southern Review, The Sewanee Review, The Texas Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, and The Yale Review, among other journals.

His honors include fellowships in literature from the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center and the North Carolina Arts Council, and grants from the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation, the Carnegie Fund for Authors, and Robert Rauschenberg & Change, Inc. (for illustrations in The Poor Boy).

He lives in Mooresville, North Carolina.

The Nursing Home

E. M. Schorb
There are more women than 
men in the nursing home and
more men than old doctors.

Staff doctors visit once a 
month. The few old men do 
very little but sleep. Two 

or three of them occasionally
gather outside in clear
weather for a smoke, which

is allowed them. I suppose
those in charge feel that
it can make no difference

now, and it brings the old
men a little pleasure. I
sit and chat with them

sometimes. Perhaps "chat"
is a bit too lively a word
to describe what passes for

conversation during these
puffing sessions. A lot
of low grunting goes on.

There is one old man who
is afflicted with bone
cancer and who says, in

high good humor, that his 
guarantees have run out.
He was a travelling salesman

in women's wear, and still
remembers how much he loved
women. Many of the women

have become little girls
again. They carry dolls
about with them, mostly

rag-dolls, I suppose so
they can't injure themselves
when they squeeze them.

To see these toothless,
balding old ladies, frail
as twigs, clutching these dolls,

is heartbreaking. Oh, to love
something! It's still there.
It has been in them since

they were little and had dirty 
knees and bows in their hair.
Some recognize me now, and,

when I give them a wave,
they wave back. It's a 
wonderful feeling to make

contact, but it is difficult
to tell how much they know.
The care-givers are kind and

efficient. They are mostly
young, and apparently try
to imbue the old with some of

their zest for life, but 
of course the old know all
that already--or knew and have

forgotten it. I wonder, 
can the young reverse their
situations with the old

and see themselves looking up
at such fresh faces from the
vantage of bed or wheelchair

or walker? I am too young
to join the old here in the
nursing home, this metaphor

(or is it the tenor of a
metaphor?) for the last days,
but I am too old

to feel the buoyancy of the 
young; so, at least for the
context of the nursing home,

I have arrived at yet another
awkward age. After visiting
my mother, who is only partly

present, I go out and sit
with the old men and have a
smoke. We hope for clear days.

From The Virginia Quarterly Review, Vol. 76, No. Three, 2000. Copyright © 2000 by E. M. Schorb. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

E. M. Schorb

E. M. Schorb

E. M. Schorb has published several collections of poetry, including Time and

by this poet

poem

The New York Draft Riots

Vanish these walls, vanish this wealth, with visionary eyes that see 
back to hot July 1863. Vanish where wealth shines shopping on Fifth 
Avenue, five minutes from the lion-braced library, where I turn down 

my book. Vanish these great, gray walls, to see when this
poem

for the musical ghost of Blind Lemon Jefferson

   Leadbelly, grim with your Cajun accordian, 
with your harmonica blues, with your knife
   flicking down the twelve strings of your guitar
--the Rock Island Line was a mighty good road--
   bowing, scraping, white-suited