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In a sleep, the wound wept its tears
Bloodshed
Seeped from itself without knowing
But I knew
I saw your death a million times before you did

But then you said
In a sleep, all around was death, death, dea th
You knew bloodshed
Wept for us both before I ever did

We’ve got babies dying
Thwack Thwack thwack

We’ve got babies dying
Mamas too–
Pancreas exploding
Aortas imploding

We’ve got a one-eyed Sally Baby
Where’d her other eye go?
What’s happened to you, Sally Baby?
Thwack Thwack

Our babies are dying!
No natural cause
There’s no death in their sleep at 89
No cancer at 64
No car accident at 70
No natural order
Thwack

Our Babies Dead
In their classrooms
Tombs of the known dead except one
No jaw or foreheads for Bullet Hole in the Face Babies
No heart beats or sounds from the Closet Babies
No blood clots from the Bled Out Babies
A lullaby of bullets dreamt them to terrible sleep
What’s happened to you, Babies?
What’s happened?

my heart is going
slowly now
it gave a good go of it
beating and all
those moments of bitter retreat
ebb and flow of blood
coming in and out of spite
until
slowly now
the organ is engorged
swollen, dying of itself
pumping painfully
ruefully spasming
giving a good go of it
slowly now

I took my leave because there’s nothing left to do. I thought I’d be more upset, saying goodbye for the last time and knowing it was finally, truly the last time. She moaned in agony. I patted her shoulder and left. I mumbled “I love you” on the way out.

I thought
I’ll be glad when she’s dead.

The guilty thoughts—wishing my aunt dead, not paying enough attention to her, not caring enough, thinking her a chore—I take them out of context so that I suffer more. So that I’ll suffer longer. Because she’s dead after all and I’m not. I tell myself that I wished her dead, as if I wished her dead in a vacuum. The context is she was dying. The context is she suffered and I wanted it to end. The context is I was selfish, but most people are. The context is my thoughts and reactions were completely understandable for a caregiver over the long haul. Death sucks, you do what you can.

The context is
she had cancer,
motherfucking, no-cure cancer.

The context is
I wished her dead, yes,
but. the thought. did. not. kill. her.

Tuesday
a day of extended anxiety
“on” for the job
“on” for my class

and just for kicks
when I’m tired
enough
to rest my head
a phone call
cancer is terminal
again
nothing the doctors can do

six months
twelve months
lungsthyroidbonemarrowandmoremoremore
cancer is a carnival worker
smiling to my family, leering at them
a two for one special
and if you’re really nice
a third for free

Fall, I did today
saw the Inbox, one message
from a name of a person who’s no longer a person
hasn’t been for years
because he’s gone on, on
Billy
Billy who died of an aneurism or a catastrophic stroke
I can’t remember which
brain stem is a bad place for a bleed

Fell, he did
died instantly there in my grandmother’s living room
died instantly but was still breathing
9 siblings and child-like mother as next-of-kin
and none of them wanted to be the one to authorize the unplugging of the plug
so he didn’t die when it would have been an intimate family affair
when they were ready
he died when it was convenient
for the medical staff

silly him,
he died when it was convenient for them.

I shelved my aunt the same day I was shelved by my lover. Admittedly, her dismissal was more traumatic of the two. Later, when I cried for myself, I cried for her, too. She’s not on my coffee table any more, at least, but she’s hovering. She’s not overbearing about it; my guilt is.

Meaning.

As far as my own shelving, I’m surprised that after the initial upset, I am feeling fine. Mind you, I still feel conflicted as it wasn’t an outright rejection but an honest sort of halfway rejection, which makes no sense but is true anyway. He’s not ready for the next step, you see. As consolation, he says he’s going to cook me dinner. He said I was beautiful when I told him I felt ugly. He said he was so sorry. He had the balls to stick around when I started crying. I’m not sure of the duration of my weeping spell, but I suppose it’s quality not quantity that matters.

Meaning.

I’ve been thinking of getting rid of my old books. It seems so blasphemous since I’m a writer. I feel as though I’m betraying some code that insists you have a responsibility to the book once you read its secrets. I feel as though if I can navigate the passage to letting go, I will have made some sort of real progress in my life.

Meaning I am tortured by meaning.

I didn’t put her away. I thought I would have. I thought I’d turned a corner.

For six weeks, an envelope with pictures of my dead aunt have been on my coffee table, waiting for me to do something with them. I have gotten teary-eyed just seeing the envelope. The last week has been especially difficult because I noticed that the pictures are halfway out of the envelope and the part I see is her exposed neck, her neck, the part that killed her. Or the cancer underneath. Whatever.

The pictures of her are when she was younger and healthier. Before she knew how she’d die or that the son (who was also in those pictures) would go before her.

I wrote her a letter before she died but didn’t get around to sending it. So I found it in my car, addressed and stamped, ready for her to read it. She’s not around to read it. She said she started a letter to me but couldn’t finish it because her hands were shaking so bad. I am sure the paper has been thrown away by now, but I’m haunted by what she may have said.

She told everyone I was her rock, but rocks don’t sob; they sit indifferent. And that I could never be.

The ache is always there but it gets better
It becomes bearable
It becomes livable

She meant the pain she felt for the loss of her son
Still her words come back to me
Because I remembered her today
I remembered when we breathed in the same room
Together
I remembered her pain and my own
I still feel her pain and my own

We will never again breathe in the same room
Together

I remembered her today
and I realized
again
how much I miss her

I worry when someone goes into the hospital
Kidneys shutting down
Liver shutting down
We don’t know why

may never know whywhywhywhywhy
haven’t we had enough of this already

once the dying starts, it doesn’t stop

Clogged arteries are blocked lifelines
legs becoming starved for oxygen
good news
he has periphery veins
and leg pains
bad news
if they are cut off, there will oxygen galore
in the form of gaping wounds
exposure and air restored

haven’t we had enough of this already
all the stops have been removed
let us commence with the dying

SOB with me

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