Saturday, March 12, 2005

Summer Afternoon in Tucson

I was stomping weeds in the heat,
my grandfather's hand-hewn door sagging
on Mexican wrought-iron hinges and slammed
by my father, who had hung it..

I watched the ants. They were small, hard
and able to raise burning welts on bare skin.
I looked closely, carefully,
a can of Coleman white gas sitting

in the shade of our palo verde tree.
The red ones were big
and curled over the sand-grains,
hateful of impedence as they dragged leaves

or even seeds over long stretches of baked
gravel. Across the vacant lot,
newly-widened Broadway hissed forever
with airconditioned cars. I kept

my eyes down, following the ants
to their great hole, a cave
of hard tireless cooperation
so pure I was ashamed to watch it..

I carried the dented red can over,
dumped it all and tossed it back,
struck and threw a blue-tip,
a pillar of orange flame, the smoke black in the white sky.

Sunday, March 06, 2005


Dr. Buchanan McKay

COLUMBIA Memorial service for Dr. Buchanan McMaster McKay, 79, was held Thursday at 3 pm at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Trinity Episcopal Cathedral Foundation Building Fund, 1100 Sumter Street, Columbia, S.C. 29201.

Dr. McKay died October 17, 2004. Born on July 18, 1925, he was the son of the late Douglas and Anne Lowndes Walker McKay. He attended public schools in Columbia, graduated from the University of South Carolina with honors and received the prestigious Algernon Sidney Sullivan Award, the highest award a university can give to a student. He graduated from Duke Medical School and took his residency in pediatrics at the University of Virginia.

Dr. Buck, as he was affectionately known, volunteered for the Air Force and was stationed at Davis–Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona. Upon discharge, he returned to Columbia and practiced pediatrics for a number of years with Dr. Richard Josey. For health reasons, he returned to Davis–Monthan Air Force Base, where he practiced as a civilian pediatrician. While at Davis–Monthan, he established its first pediatric ward. He was co–author of the first medical thesis on valley fever in children. Upon his retirement from civilian employment at Davis–Monthan, he received the Air Force Certificate of Service “in recognition of sixteen years of faithful and devoted federal service.” He was also awarded the Meritorious Civilian Service Award, one of the highest awards the Air Force presents to a civilian, which reads in part: “His accomplishments as a physician, researcher, and educator are distinctive and have represented a major contribution to the health and welfare of the Davis–Monthan Air Force Base military community.”

Later he was responsible for the formation of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Arizona Medical School in Tucson. From 1972 until 1995 he worked at the El Rio Clinic in Tucson. Patients and colleagues have many good memories of working with him during these years.

Surviving are his brothers, Douglas McKay Jr. and Julius W. McKay; brother–in–law, Col. Edward Chalgren; seven nieces and nephews; and 17 great–nieces and great–nephews. He was predeceased by his sister, Anne Lowndes McKay Chalgren.



They beat on one another
in the lamplight
proving nothing.

It was the oldest thing
and even the hard queens
offered no wit,

turning instead on their stools
to drink and bat eyes
at a new prospect


some rooms have paper calendars
you can’t see in the dark
that flap in the hot city air wafting
through dirty noisy half-
open windows in this, the
shittiest neighborhood

and tell you to leave
before you really see it


doctor mckay would show us pistols
and give us amys and weed, a cool
old southern gentleman who
asked us indvidually to step
out of our undies and sway

with the polaroid. There was money
we tucked away, individually
and we never spoke of it
nor asked to see the pictures
that numbered in the hundreds


I hadn’t seen him for a long time
and in the hospital I thought unkindly
about how he liked being sick
and heard nurses whisper about the tragedy
as I left. In a week
he was dead and I was still leaving.