Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

In the Spider’s Web – Landscapes – Intelligent Design

Daniel Thomas Moran, DDS
Massachusetts, USA

Poet’s statement: “In the Spider’s Web” is about a visit I made to see my late grandfather at a nursing facility in Michigan as he was suffering from the final stages of Alzheimer’s Disease. This poem was included in my collection From HiLo to Willow Pond.

“Intelligent Design” is a little different, but not entirely so. If you are not familiar with Christopher Hitchens, I might call him the “Patron Saint of Atheism.” It is a humorous but somewhat pointed illustration.

“Landscapes” is simply a love poem to an older woman, which pays an affectionate tribute to the subtle changes in her body, left behind by the history of her living.


In the spider’s web

Crossing years and the miles,
I find you in an unfamiliar place.

Beyond a facade of tranquility
And Georgian elegance, you sit

At the near end of an empty hall
Festooned with age and madness.

Suspended in a spider’s web, you
Struggle feebly to set yourself free.

I come to you, wearing the face of a man
Over the soul of a child you knew once,

One you taught to be strong and skillful.
Once you were Don Ameche, Charles Atlas, Paul Bunyan.

The man who could repair all broken things.
Now it takes too long to wake you.

Slumped in this easy chair, you
Struggle to lift your senses to face me.

The waters in your faded eyes
Overflow their banks, myself

Uncertain if they fall for me, or
For you Grandfather.

The weight of your being
Has been felled beyond resurrection.

For this tortured instant, we
See ourselves as reflection
For one, what was.
For the other, what is yet to come.

The sounds you make are no longer speech,
Yet I listen and watch to hear

You calling out from
Wherever it is you have gone.

I sit at your side, while you
Work hard at a cup of ice cream.

You recall what you can
Of sweetness and satisfaction.

You cannot reflect with me now
Upon the greatness of distance and time.

How far we have traveled to find us
Somewhere we don’t belong, silent

And in wait of the spider.













Photography by Andre Engels




How I worship
all of those
scars of battle
which decorate
your being.
The one which
saved your breast.
The one the dog
left in the soft
swell of your forearm.
Those delicate places
at your hip which
mark the pulling of
love through time.
The evidence of
surgeons’ blades
which preserved
you for me.
You carry them all
so very well.
The ribbons and
the dangling stars.
The fault lines
through the valleys.
The shorelines
eroded by wind.
Those gullies
carved out by rain falling.
Echoes of
conflict and valor.
The singing of
time upon your face.
The soft straining
of long bones.
Pains carried
and conquered.
Evidence of living
my fingers now
trace with joy.

Intelligent design
For Christopher Hitchens

I cannot give
much credence
to divine

Even at the
risk of  my
a redemption.

But I have faith
that it would
be wholly

To endorse any
god who’d make
a bone that
was breakable.





DANIEL THOMAS MORAN, DDS was born in New York City in 1957; he is currently clinical assistant professor at Boston University’s School of Dental Medicine. He earned a BS in biology from Stony Brook University and a doctorate in dental surgery from Howard University. His work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize on eight occasions. In 2005, he was appointed poet laureate by The Legislature of Suffolk County, New York. He is the author of six volumes of poetry, the most recent of which was Looking for the Uncertain Past (2006 Poetry Salzburg). His seventh collection, A Shed for Wood  has been scheduled for publication in the autumn of 2012 by Salmon Poetry in County Clare, Ireland. Dr. Moran is listed in Who’s Who in America and is a member of PEN American Center and The Association of Literary Scholars, Critics, and Writers.


Spring 2012  |  Sections  |  Poetry

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.