Non-Fiction Saturdays

beneath

a haibun, 3 parts

Photo by Sébastien Conejo via Mixkit.co

The wonders of the world lay deep beneath her hair. The very essence of what there is to gain from a stressful day full of anguish and the sounds of beasts rapping at closed doors is nothing. I tell her to press forward and find her strength in the pulse of a tiger’s breath, but she is not interested in climbing up the optimistic ladder tonight. I smell safety around the corner. She runs for cover. I stand with my hands held high — raised above my head. I surrender to the depth of this defeat. She claims my trust.

beneath her red locks
is a star-spangled blue moon
a wondrous new world

Broken babies and haunted Mamas wield their way into our midst. We shield ourselves from their pressure. The room is ice. There is no fire for warmth. I rub my hands together and watch the steam sift in through the cracks. She takes two steps forward, purses her lips against the air, and lets out a sigh of relief. The floor is empty. Patients are packing up — discharged by their residents or attendings. We dance alone. A tango. A foxtrot. A waltz. I simmer in the darkness with her.

lonely in this place
of impatience and patients
dancing the foxtrot

Big Pharma called the shots on the drug saving his life — it’s no longer covered. He’s in room 213 of the ICU. Death is standing by his door. She pulls a mask on to her face, laces her hands with gloves, and walks in to oversee the cleanliness of his space. He is barely breathing. The sun skips on the open blinds — his hair never touches the pillow. There, in the silence of the room, she prays to a God who walks the halls but forgets to open the doors.

on-call patient care
fills up her nightly duties
death is still coming


Author’s Note: I wrote this piece as a reflection on the most recent book I read which was In Shock: My Journey from Death to Recovery and the Redemptive Power of Hope by Rana Adwish, MD. If you’ve not given it a read and you’re interested in knowing what a physician has to say about being the patient who dies, is brought back to life, and lives to see just how medicine needs transforming — this is a book I’d recommend for you. Peace.

*Originally published in The Junction via Medium.

Death Still Comes

Silvestri Matteo|Unsplash

For: Toni Morrison

I don’t think there’s a word
for what I’m feeling. 
when you write and you’re black
and a woman and you lose
another beam of light that
gave you hope and taught you through
words how to bust out of
your skin:
no excuses, no looking back, no pulling
away from your core 
you fade . . .

bits of you break off,
float into the air, 
and paint the sky with sadness. 
I want to be able to
say how moved, enriched, and
motivated I was as someone who
followed her words. 
I don’t know how to do that
knowing that death still comes
even when you feel you
have so much more to learn. 
you have so much more to witness.

but the day ends after twenty-four hours
and a new one begins. 
that’s the constant of life. 
I will remember bluest eyes, 
beloved memories, Sula’s hips, 
passion-filled dreams, a home
away from home, and how to
love. 
I will remember
the gifts laid before me,
one million times ten — words
that blend in with my skin
and kiss the world.

I will remember
why I picked up 
a pen.


©2019 Tremaine L. Loadholt. All Rights Reserved/Originally published on Medium

What Happens When We Don’t Say Goodbye?

A Tribute Audio Poem

This is how I will remember you:

silly, silly boy
chasing tail
laughing mouth, eyes full 
of summer.

the girl you caught,
you gave your child — 
left your name
and nothing else.

how can death take you so soon?
the mystery. the madness.
the way you are now a 
Facebook memory
for those still scrolling through
lost days they will never get back.

This is how I will remember you:

giddy, quick hands
storming legs, breaking through
a crowd, lips coated in
bubblegum cigarette powder,
begging for a kiss.

you never uttered a mean 
word to me, only those of love
and I brushed you off because
we were kids and running
around a field or in a hot
gym or lifting weights occupied 
my time.

you persisted and I said “Yes!”
the messages flood my phone,
and I want to stop the
influx of sad faces and weeping words — 
I want your death to disappear,
but the Reaper works overtime.

This is how I will remember you:

dancing down the aisle on
graduation day,
Sunday shoes shined, my face
on your wingtips,
a blue gown draped over your
broad shoulders.

pearl teeth poking through
your lips, your hands flailing
in the humid air.
us. them. we . . . 
children, no longer children
headed into a world 
that promised to 
swallow us whole.

you are not dead,
not today. 
I remember you alive.


Originally published via Medium.

Death by Preparation H

Flash Fiction

John and Lenny stand outside the church drawing in on the butts of their cigarettes lamenting and gossiping about their friend Parker’s death. How does a fifty-five-year-old man manage to make his wife poison him? The two of them shoot the shit, unfazed by the crowd thickening in the pews for the viewing. The church bells ring and the small choir begins their rendition of ‘Nearer My God to Thee.’ They ignore the cues to be seated.

“You heard what happened to him, right?”

“No, I haven’t, just that he was in the hospital for three days before he died. You know what happened?”

“She’d been poisoning him . . . Preparation H in the cake icing every weekend for two years.”

“He did love cake.”

“He did . . . That’s a bad way to go, though. A hemorrhoid cream death. How do you explain that to your kids?”

“You think they’re gonna tell’em? The family?”

“I sure as hell hope not. I wouldn’t want my kids knowing I died a hemorrhoid cream death. Jesus! I ain’t going to the funeral. It’s sure to be a nesting ground for the media. Half the neighborhood’s here and it’s just the viewing.”

“Are you gonna send flowers to his family?”

“Think I’ll send them an edible arrangement and have Edith bake them a pie.”

“Good. I thought you were gonna say ‘cake’. So glad you didn’t.”

“Yeah, I’m pretty sure they don’t want any cake any time soon. Damn. Just, damn. Word on the street is that Janie caught him cheating with Elaine. Elaine of all people, Lenny! Can you believe that?”

“Well, Elaine could bake a mean cake. Wait a minute . . . Do we really know if it was Janie and not Elaine who’d been poisoning him?”

“Aw hell, man. Let’s go inside before folks get to questioning what we’re doing.”

“God. That’s still such a bad way to go.”

The two friends stroll inside the building, each of them finding their own wives, and seating themselves quietly. Neither of them mentions the words ‘cake’ or ‘Preparation H’ ever again.


Here lies Parker T. Overton. Loyal Husband. Loving Father. Faithful Servant of the Lord. June 12, 1964 — July 12, 2019. Death by Preparation H.


Originally published via The Weekly Knob on Medium.

lettre d’amour

musical selection: anita baker|giving you the best that I got

lettre d’amour

fiction


“Save my baby!” I am shouting. I tell the doctors to save you, let me die. They will never know how I planned for your arrival, the gift of you to this world is much more than I can give it. “Save my baby!” I am shouting again. They hear me. There are tubes everywhere. I place my hands on my bloody stomach. I feel you. You are alive. You are kicking frantically, aware that it is time. I will die today. I will die today and this is my love letter to you.

You are the single most important thing to me in this strange world. I claimed your fingers. I already know your feet. You are perfect — my blessing. I used to pray for your father’s presence, for him to spend time learning you as much as I have. It is up to you now. I love you more than the open sea, salty to its taste, but refreshing on a hot summer’s day. I love you more than the lying lover trying to persuade his faithful mate to take him back. I love you more than… this last breath.

Ahh…
Flat___________

The lights go out, I can’t hear the doctors. I can’t see them. I only see you. I only see you — crying in front of shattered glass, windy trees, and the roar of the truck as it collides with us. I am dead.

You are alive.
They saved you.
You are here.

This is my love letter to you. This is my love letter to you. This is my love letter to you.

Zuri, you are my life’s greatest work.


Originally published in The Junction via Medium.