by Jean Howard Jean Howard

Award-winning video and performance poet, organizer, producer, and participant in the original development of the internationally-acclaimed, "Poetry Slam", Jean Howard has poetry published in over one hundred publications, including Harper's Magazine, The Chicago Tribune, and her own book, Dancing In Your Mother's Skin (Tia Chucha Press).

They tell you
there is a cyst,
or "abnormality,"
as if normal is sitting
at a hospice bed,
genuflecting to Death
to make it easier on her,
to not screw around
and play games,
as Death is prone
to do,

And to not have all
her sisters, her nieces,
her stepdaughters drive
in from out of town,
then decide
she is not that desirable
anymore, though
she has prayed
to him, has stopped
medication, has given up
her earrings,
small shoppings,
spoons of ice cream,
even speaking,
to become his bride.

Death is a bastard,
I am thinking
after all the sisters,
the nieces,
have gone back home.
Although he loves it,
he will not perform
for audiences.

So I wait,
her breathing shallow,
release her hand,
because I know
that Death will not
share her,
and lay beside her,
in a hospice
pullout chair.

I think about
how dawn
is struggling
just to be born.

I know
that this is normal,
in some hook-through-the-gut
way. It will happen
again and again.

So, I think,
stay elusive,
through the probing,
the ultrasound,
the MRI, 'cause
Death is a wicked dude.
He either wants you,

Or he don't.
It has nothing,
I mean, nothing
to do with you.

What do you think? Please send us your comments, including the name of the work you are commenting on.
Permalink to the Amarillo Bay issue containing this work.