Waiting Rooms.  We avoid them.  Some waiting rooms are like tiny motel units – minimalist. Other waiting rooms are business-classy, meaning they have a rare palm parked in one corner, or an indoor water feature and the magazines will appear unread.

I was not in that kind of waiting room.  The magazines in the waiting room I waited in had last years Woman’s Weeklys and New Ideas, tossed like a salad across a scratched coffee table. The nurses were all wearing track shoes so they could jog from one patient booth to another yet, no matter how fast they moved, the waiting room remained full to over flowing.

So I studied the posters collaged on every wall.  I read all the warnings about cholesterol, smoking, alchohol, preventable diseases; notices concerning opening hours; a poster featuring a chubby baby firmly strapped into a Plunket approved car seat.; a height chart; a stack of pamphlets … Poems In The Waiting Room? Then my name was called.  I was about to leave the pamphlet on the table when I saw ‘Yours to Keep’ printed on the front cover.  So I put the pamphlet in my bag.


When I  got home I made myself a cup of tea and this is what I read:

Hippos on Holiday

is not really the title of a movie, 

but if it were I would be sure to see it.

I love their short legs and big heads,

the whole hippo look.

Hundreds of them would frolic

in the mud of a wide, slow-moving river,

and I would eat popcorn in the dark of a neighbourhood theatre.

When they opened their enormous mouths,

lined with stubby teeth, I would drink my enormous Coke.

I would be both in my seat,

and in the water playing with the hippos

which is the way it is,

with a truely great movie.

Only a mean spirited reviewer

would ask on holiday from what?

by Billy Collins, Random House, 2016

PitWR (NZ) supplies free poetry cards to medical waiting rooms, hospices, prisons, and rest homes.

They have a blog at WordPress too.  Waitingroompoems.wordpress.com

Notice: Over the next few weeks I will be travelling.  Yay! I hope to find some decent tea along the way but don’t be surprised if this blog starts to sound like a travel blog.  We’ll be detouring away from the well managed track of New Zealand’s better known touristy destinations – so come along.  We know a few shortcuts.  You won’t mind wearing a blindfold will you?


7 replies on “Yours to Keep!

  1. That is clever–providing free poems for waiting rooms. Me, I always have my phone’s Kindle app. I can’t think of the last time I looked for reading material in the waiting room.


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