Matthew Ussia

The Closest I Ever Got to Murdering Someone

Had to learn the secrets
of managing a dying parent
on the fly
under the pressures
of a healthcare system
whose only imperative
is cost containment

never let grief soften you into submission
because only the squeaky wheels
get morphine and clean catheters
always be between the doctor and the door
to make sure they stay long enough to finish

so when I left Dad in the ICU
to bounce flights between
Myrtle Beach and Pittsburgh and back
was only gone overnight
got back to the hospital
to find he had been transferred
to another room in another unit
in my absence they decided
he needed a new place to go die

found him in room 319
skin a deep red
had sweat through his clothes and bedding
been thrashing, trying to scream for hours

ran to the nurse’s station
pleading for help and
she looked me dead in the eyes and
with complete disgust in her southern drawl
Well, I gave him something this morning


Matthew Ussia is director of Duquesne University’s First Year Writing Program in spite of the fact that he got a C- in freshman writing and was rejected from Duquesne’s MA program.  He is also an editor, podcaster, post-doom thereminist, softcore punk, postpunk backup singer, social media burnout, and sentient organic matter.  His first book, The Red Glass Cat, was published by Alien Buddha Press in 2021. His writings have appeared in Mister Rogers and Philosophy, Future Humans in Fiction and Film, North of Oxford, Trailer Park Quarterly, Anti-Heroin Chic, and The Open Mic of the Air Podcast among others.