ODE ON A STYROFOAM CUP | Christopher Adamson


What I saw from the hospital window

After they gave me the diagnosis.



A bed of wilted irises

Broken glass glinting on the sidewalk

Pigeons picking at breadcrumbs 

A child, with a Dutch cut, in a round window

Graffiti scrawled on the side of a white cube van

A cigarette butt flicked from a passenger window.


To the east:

A brick tenement, boarded up

The Marlboro man on the billboard by the overpass

Smoke wisping skyward from a factory stack

A hooded figure on a fire escape

The clock in the derelict tower

Missing both hands.


Farther south:

Dogs running helter-skelter on a pebble beach

Insatiable roll of whitecaps

A random parade of grey

Unforgiving cloud.



Marooned in smudged glass

The pie of a face, indistinct

Blur of arms lifting the wastebasket

A skull and crossbones

Purpled on the orderly’s bicep.


Christopher Adamson is a sociologist and a fiction writer. His essay, “Existential and clinical uncertainty in the medical encounter: an idiographic account of an illness trajectory defined by inflammatory bowel disease and avascular necrosis,” was published in the Sociology of Health and Illness (Volume 19, March 1997). He is also the author of a novella, The Road to Jewel Beach (Exile Editions, 2004). His short stories appear in Ontario Review, Exile Literary Quarterly and Hart House Review.