Her Wings Not Strong Enough (reprise)

She hangs
Luminous melon-green wings

He set his trap
Her crime flying too close
Caught in the web
Of a foe she dwarfs

Helpless against his cunning
She gave up
Her wings not strong enough
Invisible threads stole her freedom

One would not guess
The spider could win
With a weave so delicate
It belies intent

A beautiful creature
Even in death
Did she succumb too soon
Unaware of her power?

Her captor not present
To claim his prey
I cut her loose
Denying him reward

She falls to the ground
And I wonder why it is
I would presume
The insects’ genders.

©2018 Patricia A. Nugent


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A Long Goodbye

Click below to read my recent essay about gun violence, as published in the Albany Times Union.



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Click below to read what happened in church last Sunday.


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This, Too, Shall Pass

Too late, I spotted Baby Jesus’ feet sticking out of Punkin’s mouth – snatched from the tabletop nativity scene. I flew across the room to rescue the Prince of Peace. Punkin took a big gulp, and Jesus disappeared down his gullet.

I’d had that creche since childhood. Each day, I’d hop-scotch the shepherds from table to table across the living room –– bringing them closer to the manger where Jesus would be making a grand entrance on Christmas morning. As an adult, I still moved the Wise Men closer, following the star, even though I’d long rejected the literal narrative of his virgin birth. The story still holds magic and nostalgia for me.

But the Savior had disappeared into my dog’s stomach. Like Jonah and the whale.

This was unusual behavior for Punkin. Unlike Dolly, he was not a forager. He didn’t typically eat our stuff; it was more his style to crash into it. But since a mast cell tumor had invaded his golden body, he’d been on oral chemotherapy, which dramatically altered his behavior. The potential cure turned my joyful, interactive dog into a recluse who hid under the piano rather than interact. Knowing that was no life for Punkin, we discontinued treatment to try to re-kindle some of his spark before he died. The Universe granted us a couple more months.

During that time, he ate Jesus. Seemed fitting in a way.

I called the vet’s office: “My dog just ate Baby Jesus from the manger.”

Silence. Crank call?

I repeated myself.


“I’m serious. It was ceramic – about one square inch. I’m quite sure it went down whole – I didn’t see Punkin chew him.”

Pause. “Well, that gives a whole new meaning to ‘the body of Christ,’ doesn’t it?”

I allowed myself to laugh, despite concern for my dog and the disappearance of the lead in my childhood nativity scene.

“Unless he shows distress, just watch for Jesus to exit the other end.”

“I think he’s too big to come out the other end.”

“You’d be surprised what Jesus can do. Don’t underestimate him. It’ll pass.”

Laughter in the background tells me I’m being broadcast. That clinic had quite a run (and financial boon) with Punkin’s antics over the years.

I hung up and told my husband we had to monitor every poop, searching for the baby. Like King Herod.

“Jeezus,” he replied.


Over the next few days, we watched for the Second Coming. Nothing that appeared was recognizable as the body of Christ. After three days, we had to assume he’d found another way out.

-Excerpt from Healing with Dolly Lama: Finding God in Dog

by Patricia A. Nugent Copyright 2021

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One Nation, Under Rage

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Night Visitors

I hear a commotion down the hall. I think I recognize my father’s voice, but I’m too groggy to zero in on it. It’s dark, except for the bright lights outside the door.

The voices become clearer. My father is arguing with the nurse, saying he wants to see his daughter, his daughter who is in the hospital following a tonsillectomy.  I hear him say that he couldn’t sleep, so he brought my stuffed bear for me.

He sounds angry, and I register embarrassment that my father is raising his voice at the people taking care of me. The nurse, however, is insistent that he can’t just barge in after visiting hours and that he should come back tomorrow morning. I hear slamming doors and then silence.

The nurse quietly enters my room and puts the bear in my bed. When she leaves, I grab for it and snuggle it. It’s not just any bear – it’s the bear my dad bought me after my mom dragged me away from it in the store, telling me it was too expensive. A few months later, I had found it on Christmas morning in the bottom of a big empty box “from Santa.”

Today, I am the one going to see my father after visiting hours. After spending the evening with my mother, his room is a stop on the way home. He, too, is often sleeping when I sneak in the employee entrance, but nurses today know it’s better medicine to get a goodnight kiss from a loved one than to toss and turn in a fist-clenched sleep. I try to bring him special treats that I hope he’ll enjoy. And I can’t help but note that I too have sounded angry at his caregivers from time to time in my zeal to protect him.

The circle remains unbroken. And the night is a little less dark thanks to night visitors.

-Excerpt from They Live On: Saying Goodbye to Mom and Dad by Patricia A. Nugent

I still have the bear, but no longer my father.

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High Heels

I awoke from the ether-induced stupor, alone in the cold, sterile facility. The pain in my throat told me my tonsils had indeed been removed. There was seemingly no one around.

I lay there waiting, not sure what would happen next.  Still groggy from the anesthesia, I drifted in and out of sleep. My dreams even frightened me, featuring surreal events and creatures. I was alone and scared. I was seven.

Then I heard her coming. Heard her high heels clicking rapidly down the hall. I knew they were coming my way, instantly knew that was my mother. She breezed into my room like a breath of fresh air, exuding her typical high level of energy and self-confidence. She hugged me, and I could feel the excitement of her world of business and politics emanating from her professional garb. I knew that she had postponed or interrupted something important to be with me, knew that I was more important to her than any unfinished business. She stroked my head and gave me ginger ale until I drifted back to sleep. But I still heard the distant clicking of her high heels when she left.

Today, more than 40 years later, it is my high heels that click down the hall. Click down the hall of the nursing home where my 87-year-old mother now lies alone. It is she who awaits a visit, awaits someone to comfort her, to assuage her fears and loneliness. To give her a sip of water. I am the one who brings the sights and sounds of the outside world into her little room. And I am the one whose heels she hears getting fainter as I too soon leave her alone again.

 “I heard you coming,” she said as I entered the room tonight.

“I know you did, Mom, because I remember hearing you walking down the hall when I was in the hospital”. I told her the story of my recognizing the sound of her high heels after my surgery. She cried, and I cried. We cried for all the places she could never go again. We cried because our collective world has gotten so small. We cried because our time together is drawing to a close.

It is now my turn to take care of this woman, to pay on a debt I can never fully repay. It is I who must now miss meetings and appointments and parties because she needs me. For there are many places my high heels take me, but none as important as to my mother’s bedside.

-Excerpt from They Live On: Saying Goodbye to Mom and Dad by Patricia A. Nugent


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My New York State of Mind

My editor called it “provocative.” I called it “My New York State of Mind.”


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Re-thinking the Rosary

Click this link to read my recently published essay about my journey away from and back to the Rosary.


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Swear to God

Click below to read my latest published article about the upcoming election. Hope it helps you sleep better, pray more, and swear with intent.

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