Day 45: February 14, 2017

My step-father is very ill. It is taking quite a bit of my free time and weighing on my greatly. He is a good man and was a good parent to me.

Watching someone in the end stage of life, suffering, is the worst part of living. My cousin and I were trying to talk to him, but he has a large oxygen mask over face. We got him to use an iPad instead, slowly working through each letter, partly picking at letters like with an Ouija board, and partly guessing at what he was trying to spell. We finally got it: “I’ve been through hell.”

It is heartbreaking. I don’t know if any of us know how to deal with death or can offer much understanding at what the person who is dying must be going through. It is not fair; life is not fair. We go through our lives and participate in the illusion because we must, otherwise, there is no point. But in the end, we must face the reality of our existence; and it is horrifying.

My step-father was a strong man, a farmer, a wood craftsman. Now his body has withered and he is in a constant struggle to breathe, to move, to live. I can’t stand the idea that he is ever alone in that hospital bed, or, even worse, that he could pass on with no one at his side. I try to focus on other things in my life, but struggle.

Obviously, I am not doing any writing or editing. I am not even processing much right now. I’ll do that later, filter it all through words and stories. Much of what we write is about love or death, and this is why: they are the only absolute things we know about our existence. They are the things we feel deeply and have any understanding about at all.



Moments in Seventy Years, Heart, Heart, Unswell

Love is not fate,
nor some duration of frivolous months or years.
It is molecules flung wide,
astral breaches that birth light and our knowing.
We see an owl in a lone cypress,
its tonal voice like air in a ventilator,
a soft whoosh of meaning and yet melodic
as a string of warm, summer days.
There is amber grass
wrapped tight around the nearby pond and all its affairs.

When a child grabs his mother’s hand
he does so without a hint of dawdling.
He is bound by some recessed dread,
the notion that she might sneak away.
Then, an invocation and a wedding,
the passing of a man from one woman to another,
when he must learn how one naked form
can be so transformed as if emerged from cocoon.
There is a white blanket
cast aside to reveal a pocket of warm comfort.

We breathe still air
as long as our wanderings do not cease.
These are durable moments
that require our steep attention.
I see a body in a lone bed,
its breaths like owl voice in the dead of night,
and the body transformed
as if already shrouded in white blanket.
I touch this, my mother’s heart,
one last beat for this important earthly juncture,

and am awed by my time among these wondrous shapes.

Waiting for a Sign From God in Front of Luke’s Liquors

I walked into it, straight to the rack at the back,
to the hefty bottles that need their own handle,
paid in cash and sat on the curb, waiting
for the sun to explode. I knew it would happen,
a whitish blast of light I had seen in a dream
a few nights before, after a night of zombie flicks,
the walking dead chewing on hearts.

This heat said something: the crust was melting,
dwindling down into silicon puddles.
My sweat felt like the expulsion of all things
ugly, and it felt right against my skin. When my cell rang
and I saw it was her, I pressed it past,
and called Rita instead. She knew how things were,
always knew for the right price.

A scarred El Camino pulled up, stopped just at my knees
and diablo himself scooched out. Rita had said to drop by at 7:00,
so I hung up and then saw the glossy wood handle in the dude’s jeans,
the look of the devil in his eyes. I kept my gaze to the ground,
tied my shoelace, anything but acknowledge his hellish bent.
After the store door swung open and closed, I raised
a healthy swig to my lips, shook off the shivers

and jerked at the two pops from inside the store. I thought
of my prayer early that morning, “Please God, let me know
how things will turn out, press your sweet palm to my head,
fill me with knowing.” I found a $50 bill outside my door later
and knew He was guiding my way. Must have been dropped
by that chick from Suddler’s Pub last night
when she ran out laughing about 1am. I heard the store door

swing open again, and saw the shadow hover behind me, felt the divine
on my head and heard Him say, “You’ve seen me now,
you know how this ends,” and felt a simmering leave my chest
and finally, just like my dream, the white light came,
and the Earth was taken back by its son.