“Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.” – Vaclav Havel



When the days were dark
With illness and death all around,
Hope lay dormant –
A lamp hidden under a bushel
Of despair.

But it still gave its light
To allow the man to go on.
How this happened
Was that the man was certain
There was meaning in the meaningless.

He often created his own meaning,
Certain of that hidden light.
The light waiting to be uncovered,
Placed on a lamp stand
To light the room of his life.

There was a certainty that the light was there
Just unseen – like a tree might make a sound
As it fell in a forest
Although no one was there to hear.
A light of potential.

Love removed the bushel.
Time and blessings upon blessings
Acted as that lamp stand.
Faith kept the feet of his life
Plodding one step ahead of the last.

And when that light shone
All of those blessings
Culminated in a cacophony of grace
Abundantly poured out
Flowing like honey

Into every crack…


© Richard A. Martin, Jr., MD, CPC, 2017

They Said Wonderful Things

They Said Wonderful Things

They Said Wonderful Things

We sat at the Rehearsal Dinner for my Son and his beautiful bride-to-be.
After the food and desserts and coffee,
It came time to raise our glasses.

We had already gone through the awkwardness
Of special accommodations
Of meetings with people who had been at odds with us over the years.

But when it came time to toast the groom
They said wonderful things.
I was silent, in listening mode.

I had my toast in my heart.
A toast of thanksgiving for all the mercy he had shown me
Over the years.

I hadn’t been the best father
Treading water just to keep myself
Afloat – above water.

But…that mewling, pink, naked person
That I was the first to hold
Was always someone I would have taken a bullet for.

Despite my ineffectiveness
He’d grown into a fine man
With talent and a spirit of fire.

There were many remembrances that I heard
In other tongues than my own
But bearing resemblances to my own experiences.

My heart soared like an Eagle
I took some credit for the “him” he had become.
They said wonderful things.


© Richard A. Martin, Jr., MD, CPC, 2017

My Love

My Love

My Love

There was once literally
Thousands of miles between us.

We got over that and are now so close
We hear each other’s hearts beat

As one…


© Richard A. Martin, Jr., MD, CPC, 2017

First Snow

first snow
First Snow

First Snow

It was dark and still.
The flakes were as big as saucers
In the black night.

No one had scarred the white blanket
That stretched along the South side
Of the building.

He was a dog, five, going on six.
He had never seen this white expanse before.
It didn’t snow much in these parts.

But there had been diamond-clear days
For days before. Unusually cold, they
Had chilled everything to receive the dusting.

So, as the warm air collided.
Down came the wet snow,
Before the rain and warmth moved in to erase it all away.

And in the wonder of that snowy blanket, covering his lawn
He gavotted with joy formidable,
Scarring the clean white landscape.

So excited by this new and unique experience.
The cold melting with the heat of his paws.
The taste of the large flakes on his tongue.

He barked in sheer delight, his butt arched high,
While he leaned his chest into the puffy snow.
In the morning it was gone to muddy slush.

© Richard A. Martin, Jr., MD, CPC, 2016

When Ned came to the island with his dog

When Ned came to the island with his dog…


When Ned came to the island with his dog

When Ned came to the island with his dog
greeted by the men in bulging Speedos
some he knew and many that he didn’t
he saw the tip of an enormous iceberg
the submerged of which would quickly be revealed
men and women would die in agony and pain
Ned wanted to rise and rail and shout
urine on the steps up to the Capitol
never silent always loud and angry
in counterpoint to their deafening silence
and that accomplished his and their agenda
so that in these days the trigger has become
accepted resigned to and complacent
as if everything has now been put aright
The problem is that many still are suffering
but now the kettles taken off the boil
And all that’s left is us to brew the tea



© Richard A. Martin, Jr., MD, CPC, 2016

Dual Diagnosis

Dual Diagnosis
Dual Diagnosis

Dual Diagnosis

The men met
At the corner of Cherry Street and Terry Ave.
The one with the dog
Was dapper, groomed, face washed,
Warm in his Sherpa jacket
A dog in tow on a retractable leash.

The one with the deeply lined face,
Puffy eyes, 3 day old scruff on his jaw,
Missing several teeth, others in dire need of repair,
With no coat, wrapped in a 12th Man flag,
Spoke with the strong odor of ethanol and decay
Emanating from that disheveled gob.

“That’s a fine-looking dog.
I’d love to have a dog like that,
But I’m not responsible enough
To have one.
What’s his name?”
“Felon,” the other man answered.

The man with the dog noticed a puzzled look on the questioning man’s face.
This happened ALL the time.
The man with the dog noticed it, expectantly.
Must be his pronunciation.
“Felon…like a criminal,” said the dog handling man.
That man saw the light go on in the other man’s face and eyes.

“What a COOL name!” said the snaggeltooth.
“He’s a fine animal.
You see, I’m an alcoholic,
And bipolar.”
No news flash.
“I have a dual diagnosis. May I pet him? I always ask.”

“Sure! Fel…come here and meet…ummm…”
“…Gary. Come here, boy”
The drunk reached out a trembling, weathered hand,
And gently stroked the dog’s wide,smooth head.
The dog’s tail wagged as it always did when shown such affection.

“He’s a fine dog,” he murmured breathing out fumes.
“Maybe someday I can have a dog like him.”
“Well, I hope so,” said the dog’s owner.
“I wonder what you’d have to do in order for that to happen?” he asked respectfully.
“Well…stop drinking, get a job, and a place of my own.
But that’s really hard.”

“Yes, Gary, it is.
It can be done tho.”
The dog’s chaperon thought back,
Twenty five-odd years earlier,
His own drinking and cocaine use brought him to his knees.
Couch surfing after a hospitalization, faced with the same dual diagnosis.

So bewildering…the dog walker had made it through
The maze of the strong pull for release promised by substances,
The seemingly endless maze of one set of meds
After another, and another, and another.
And yet, here he was
Just doing the next best right thing after the next best right thing.

How would Gary do it?
Without even a couch to surf from?
Burned bridges strewn in his past.
Burnt out friendships and relationships.
No job, no anchoring to any semblance of reality
That the man with the dog had found, after much searching.

“Well, I’ve gotta go,” said Gary.
“You have a good day, Gary”
“Thanks!” And Gary shuffled off, body lurching from impending DT’s.
Right down the street, Straight to the convenience store
To get that “magic potion”
That would set him aright for a few more hours until he required another dose.

So bewildering.
“I guess not today, Gary,” the dog’s owner thought,
As he headed home.
Still puzzling.
“Why me?
And not him?”



© Richard A. Martin, Jr., MD, CPC, 2016