ja rhythm

i have been in the room
where death sits & preens herself
for too long —

how she warns with blood
in shit months
before infecting too many organs,
the surgeons cutting everything
out & away —

how she visits a brain
in the night
blood burstng and drowning
pathways, head down
on a table, on a pillow —
it’s your son,
it’s your wife,
it’s your father

once, in the unit for cancer patients
specimens in poverty
for experimental treatments,
i listened for death’s breathing
as my friend told me
he was ready to meet his maker,
his thin body under the hospital gown,
his lungs still blowing the little blue ball
up the plastic chute —
it was only months before
that he’d given over
the fisted angry rule
of his daily living
to hope
for a place in his invisible father’s house

tonight i’m going to travel
with the spirit of the yellow
faced rasta man straight
into the sensual rumble & tweak
of bass and lead, the slow
but steady whacking of stick
on bongo,
i’m going to the place where god
smiles & turns in her sleep
before coming back
to this room full of death,
my kittycat, her still & quiet
purring oblivious
to the pressure.

wendy shaffer


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