Bob Jacob

Cover of Bob Jacob's PerspectiveWhat may be most surprising in Perspective, which is a book full of surprises, is the amount of joy, laughter, last-minute insight, and utter honesty shown by the hospice patients so clearly and lovingly depicted here. Bob Jacob’s poems also praise the dedication of the nurses and others who make The Connecticut Hospice such a place of refuge. The book is a testament to the human spirit. Readers have been enthusiastic about the verse of a man who has dedicated himself to those most in need of what Jacob calls his loving words. Jean Valentine writes, “I admire Bob Jacob’s loving, tender voice valuing people close to death.” And Stephen Dunn has commented that the poems “reveal a man you’d like to know.”

Perspective has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award.

Bob Jacob began to read poetry to cancer support groups in the 1990’s. In addition, he has made his large collection of poems available to churches, chaplains, and individual cancer and MS patients. For seven years he has been reading poetry as a hospice volunteer at The Connecticut Hospice Hospital in Branford. He has also been a hospice volunteer at the Visiting Nurses Association in East Hartford, and is at present a hospice volunteer through the VNA at St. Francis Hospital in Hartford, reading to home-bound patients. In 2004 a short selection of Jacob’s hospice poems, “Upon Their Quiet Altars,” was published. Like this full-length collection, the earlier book appeared under the aegis of The Connecticut Hospice, to which all proceeds of both books are being donated.

The Antrim House seminar room offers notes, ideas for discussion & writing, images, and/or additional poems. Click here to read the seminar offering for Perspective.

Click here to read sample poems. And to hear Bob Jacob reading from his hospice poems, visit

Click here to view Bob Jacob’s upcoming events.



ISBN: 978-0-9792226-6-5
116 pages, 6" x 9" perfect bound



Will you sing a song
while dying
and will you sing it
at the top of your voice
and will a daughter
sing along with you
and will your wife of 67 years
hum along in quiet harmony
and will the song be
“Watching All The Girls Go By”
from a musical called
The Most Happy Fella?




She holds her wrinkled hands up
and asks what color I see.
I know why she asks.
“A beautiful rosy pink,” I say.
She disagrees and says,
“I think they are dark, dark red.”

She says in a quiet, dispassionate voice,
“When someone is dying
their fingertips change color.”

Her hospital bed has been rolled
into a private area
facing large picture windows
overlooking Long Island Sound.
The water reflects a gray day.
She says, “Oh my! Look at that,
an angel flying across the water.”
It’s the bright white wake of a boat.

Almost immediately she spots
another angel above her.
Looking up I notice for the first time
etchings in the ceiling for patients
to see when their beds are rolled around:
an angel, balloons, Santa Claus, the moon.
Later when we roll her back to her room
I’ll say, “Look, love, you’re being mooned,”
which produces a soft laugh and smile.

Her head is almost skeletal,
which accentuates her
large, expressive eyes. The bones
of her upper chest and shoulders
protrude through dull white skin,
but her mind is clear, though slow.
She gives the impression
she is as light as the surrounding air.

Some of the poems I read
make her laugh, and when I ask her,
“If a man speaks in the forest
and there is no woman there to hear him,
is he still wrong?” she chuckles softly,
her cloudy blue eyes shining with mirth.

Some poems I read more than once.
The last stanza of the poem
“Let Evening Come” by Jane Kenyon,
I read over and over by request.
She says, “Please read it more slowly.”

Let it come, as it will, and don’t
be afraid. God does not leave us
comfortless, so let evening come.

During the fourth reading
she reaches out and holds my hand.
For the first time I notice
her finger nails are turning purple.




for Helen

Four adult daughters
surround her bed,
all of whom say yes
to a reading of loving words.
She continues to turn the pages
of Vogue magazine,
making humorous comments.

“Look at them, they all look
like they need a good meal.
If my hair looked like that
they’d lock me up.”

Her daughters chuckle and giggle
until the title of the poem
“Elbows” is announced.
As I begin to read, Helen begins
a lament on how ugly
her elbows are and have been forever.

“Oh Mom don’t be ridiculous.”
“Momma you don’t have ugly elbows.”
“That’s absolutely stupid.”
“ I never heard anything so crazy.”

As I stop reading, her daughters
begin to laugh. She holds up
her elbows for all of us to see.

“See how pointy they are?
Once I went to a cocktail party,
spent a fortune on a dress,
and my elbows ruined the whole effect.”

The laughter is so loud now
it sounds like a party.
I’ve given up on the poem,
and am starting to worry
about staff coming
to question my presentation.
When her eyes lock on mine
she has a wry grin.
I suddenly realize
she has begun to protect them
from what lies ahead
with a wall, a wall of laughter.


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