THE LONG TERM ABOUT TO TERMINATE
He doesn’t rest or sleep,
merely occupies that hospital bed.
Same with his brain, his body.
They’re just death’s waiting rooms.
Our bewilderment is contagious.
Is this really our father?
Conversations with dad lately
have been like twisting and turning the radio dial
and merely cranking up the static.
Our mother says he’s been reliving his childhood.
And he’s taken to singing nursery rhymes.
“Ding! Dong! Dell!” is not what we came to hear.
Sadly, she’s not much better.
But she knows our names at least,
even if, from time to time,
she connects them to the wrong face.
But she insists, in heaven, it will be different.
They’ll be together, in their prime,
and remembering every last detail.
So, to her, he’s a date in the future.
To we kids, he’s a presence,
so like him and yet so unalike,
but enough of him still alive
to block our better memories from kicking in.
And he makes me conscious of my own vulnerability,
how life was not designed to hold together
the way I wish it to.
Not in the long term, at least.
And he’s at the very end of that long time,
one ruinous breath, one discredited heartbeat away
from the obituaries.
His dying is ruining it for the living.
The more he forgets, the more we don’t want to know.
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Midwest Quarterly, Poetry East and North Dakota Quarterly with work upcoming in South Florida Poetry Journal, Hawaii Review and Roanoke Review.
Giving one shot to the point for a reason very different from soft wax in your stamp on the ground, I apply your eyes with both my hands at once to hold up the room a minute when you may suppose I am not able to walk as fast as you drive the sandstorm and pursue your short breath to overcome everything I guess with your brain. I begin to go backward and forward not to conceal from myself what I have done at short intervals, I mention your name. You are hot and cold, and black and white, all at once when you are a young libertine in everything I have experienced, I wait for your next questions which are surprised and inconsiderate for elders who are still learning to rewrite their names.
Jacob Kobina Ayiah Mensah is the author of the new hybrid work, Z. His individual poems are widely published and recently appearing in Rigorous, Beautiful Cadaver Project Pittsburgh, The Meadow, Juked, North Dakota Quarterly, Cathexis Northwest Press, The Sandy River Review, Strata Magazine, Atlas Poetica, Modern Haiku, etc. He is algebraist and artist and lives in the southern part of Ghana, Spain, and Turtle Mountains, North Dakota.