Grandma Ponczoha’s Croup de Grace

Two burning, barking, wheezing

days and nights

of Musterole and mustard plaster,

Time to get serious:

Five fat cloves of raw garlic,

dipped in coarse salt,

and chewed thoroughly.

My eyes flooding, nose gushing,

she’d spoon two big fingers

of fresh honey

into a clear glass tumbler

and add hot water.

“Now stir,” she’d say,

handing me the teaspoon.

Two jiggers of Four Roses,

More hot water, to the brim.

“Stir,” she’d repeat,

wiping my face

with a cool, damp cloth.

Savor the sweet, tawny blend,


make it last.

Wake up hours later

in a pool of sweat.


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