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BY Michael

03/01 Direct Link

It is dark in this room.

I get glimpses of possibilities

Several times a day

Altered each time

So I know that

The best I can do is to

Take care of myself

And do the things that

Need to be done

While waiting for the next fork

In the road so that I will

Be agile enough

To navigate

With minimal warning.

 

It is odd how some

Realities are so much

More real than others

How some cups passed to you

Make others pass

Into insignificance.

 

Now I listen to my father

Struggle in the next room

Against sleep.

03/02 Direct Link

It is nearly time for bed.

My father is making coffee

And stubbing his staff into

The carpet as he prowls the

Dark house.

 

I don’t have internet access

Here. 

This is one of several major

Changes that have come to pass

In my life as a result of

My mother’s hospitalization.

 

My sister and I have split

Up responsibilities,

She taking care of my mother

While I take care of my father.

 

I have come from my home

200 miles north

And find I am

Somewhat surprised

At how small a hole I left

In the puddle back there.

03/03 Direct Link

Red paint stapled

into a rusted road sign.

Something happens

In the road ahead.

 

It feels like

paradise

like

grace pausing

at your feet.

 

It cushions

at first before

it begins to seep

into the blood

into the bones

smelling like

like sin

like sun

like the arc of the arrow

springing in air;

 

Sounds like

the last sigh

the pounding fist at your door,

 

like the explosion of your heart

over and over again.

It won’t stop at the river.

It won’t stop at the falls.

 

It roars out of your chest

long after you hoped it would

stop.

03/04 Direct Link

My father remembers stories from long ago, things that no one else remembers.  I would think this is a sign that he is aging, but he has always been this way.  I remember a few vignettes.  I remember the way the mud crawled up out of the woods to my grandmother’s pond and the way the tin cans and trash seemed to bleed out of that mud.  The way the mud seemed to cling to the trees growing on the south edge of the pond there as if there had been some kind of large explosion to create the thing.

03/05 Direct Link

Dynamite may have been involved in the creation of that pond. It was a very large pond built on the edge of a meadow just as it tipped over a slope to fall into a woods.  Grandfather’s life insurance money went into it too. Grandmother said he would have been proud of that pond.  Most likely he would have been.  It was the story of my great uncle shooting frogs at that pond and tripping a round off just over my head that my father didn’t remember.  So I was left to wonder whether my memory was real or not.

03/06 Direct Link

He’s looking for toothpaste now.

Do I have any here?

No, but I would go get some.

He continues to look

 

and finds some

for his dentures he explains.

Do I have a toothbrush in there?

No I do not.

I haven’t been given a place

to put things like that.

A place to put clothes

clean or dirty.

A place to put a toothbrush.

I have not been offered a set of keys

and frequently lock myself out.

so I stay next door

at my sister’s

where I have my own room

my own drawers

and my own key.

03/07 Direct Link

These are not days like the others.

There are similarities.

There are the touches

cries for money

lack of sleep,

the confusion between

dreaming and waking sometimes.

The numbing in my toes and fingers.

The aching sense of loss for some

Thing my memory cannot quite touch.

That is not new.

There is less time now

less time to gather things

About myself to count and to sort.

There is less time about myself.

There is less writing.

I have seven changes of clothes,

a razor, toothbrush, and a personal computer.

I don’t seem to miss the rest

so much.

 

03/08 Direct Link

The day is unique

once again.

My sister has taken my father

to the doctor this morning

leaving me alone.

And although I am tired and sleepy

and have a long list of things

to do with my new free time

I find a chair.

The one with the electric heater

because I am so tired of being cold

and I begin writing

because…

Well there was another reason for that

and I nearly understood it this morning

standing upstairs looking out over

this desolate broken down little village

I can’t help wonder what would have

if I had stayed.

03/09 Direct Link

In my visit to Ohio I have encountered many older persons and repeatedly have been confronted with stories about Hospice, not the warm motherly Hospice that we have been often sold, but a darker, colder, death with selective agenda, don’t-nobody-piss-me-off legalized happy reaper.  The word in the halls of the nursing homes is, “Don’t let them put you in Hospice if you have anything to say about it.”  Unfortunately by the time someone signs that order you don’t have anything to say about it, and many of the stories I heard, both from patients and caregivers were just cold-blooded murder.

03/10 Direct Link
 

One two the eyes are burning.

I am thinking it would be nice

to have someone to talk to

so as to sort things out,

there being one or two items


of confusion here.

I would not know exactly know where

to start

or what it was I was explaining

or trying to excuse.


I seem to be left here with

my father


It is a sort of madness

as he mumbles and growls

and howls and pedals and

stalks

and then collapses for another

twenty minutes again

before getting up again to

take more pills

or whatever he does.

03/11 Direct Link
 

That wasn't very useful.

I know I am sleepy and

possibly I can just give in

and let the old man grind himself

into the hospital where he will

become someone else's problem.


I consider this briefly. I consider

the whole situation .

It is one of those “life things”

I often explain to others, but this

one is above and beyond

normal life things...seems to be.


I fled the man at the age of 16

and have rarely returned since

and then only for short times.

Now I am needed.

It is not like much has changed

otherwise.

03/12 Direct Link
Base cuts are falling apart
apart at a time
my mailbox is full 
a meaningful complaint.

So   I spend some time bonding with the extended family
spend some time visiting my father in the hospital
spend some time visiting 
my mother in the Hospital next door.

i trim my fathers mustache but I 
do it badly
leaving him with a lopsided lip.

The orderly pushing his wheelchair announces 
he is transporting a national treasure.
 my father asks about his dog.

My mother is asleep when I find her. 
 I leave a note on her coffee cup.

 
03/13 Direct Link

The carpet cleaning truck is roaring next door leaking onto the drive.  It seemed like a good time to clean carpets with both parents in the hospital.  I seem to have caught the bug that put my father in, my resistance keeping me healthier while the same germ tries to kill him.  Of course he is down to one lung since the left one seems to have mysteriously disappeared at some point over the past forty years.  No one seems to know what happened to it.  Did you put it with the Tupperware?  No.  Did you look in the garage?

03/14 Direct Link

I may be more easily confused than many.  I really do not know.  It is difficult to say from where I sit.  I look at others and it seems that most people I know are not hesitant or confused at all.  It seems that they are rather confirmed and confident in what they know to be true and what they perceive from moment to moment and if they have any doubts they quash them rather than take any risk of confusion and explore them.  This appears to make them much more effective at whatever they are doing at the moment.

03/15 Direct Link

The road is barren, hard, and rocky in

Its small brutal way

It is carefully designed to grind up

Small reckless children

Who are too tired or

wild on their bicycles

tearing hunks of dark

bloody skin out of hands

arms

legs and faces.

  

It carries the grooves of their tires on either side

where they drive in the middle, swerving over

at the last minute

when they see another to pass.

 

 And there is the hill,

where the corn grows high

and close to the intersection in the fall

where the wooden crosses bunch together

like weird wild weeds.

03/16 Direct Link

And so I do the careful thing.

I set a timer

for one hour.

I will do this thing for one hour

and then I will do another thing.

 

I am no longer sure that this is the correct way to do things.

I am only assured that it is a better way than I had before. 

It may be that a half hour or two hours may be a better setting.

 

Or perhaps ten minutes for some things and 3 hours for others

although I suspect that three hours

is a world where a man could get lost forever.

03/17 Direct Link

I can feel it out of the corner of my heart

as if one of my young nieces

had carefully trimmed off a lobe

with her scissors during a paper and shears session

allowing me to sense things through

this new opening.

 

Yes, I can feel this thing

and I try not to get too close to

it because I recognize it as

a potentially overwhelming

emotion.

Probably pre-verbal.

Possibly post-verbal.

 

It has been there for a while now,

several years I know,

crouching in the corner

purring like a cat preening herself.

after a perfect meal of

Fancy Feast.

03/18 Direct Link

Is the ringing

And hammering in my ears.

Cicada along the road.

Hot sun baking the paint

Off the metal hood

Ford in summer.

 

My sister is on the phone

Downstairs in the kitchen.

Perhaps she is talking to my father

Who desperately wants to

Remake the family history

In some kind of image

That does not even hang together

In his own story from hour to hour

And yet she seems to be willing to

Accept his revisions.

 

Occasionally stopping her shopping cart

To look up suddenly

Past the ringing and hammering

To a memory that slides by.

03/19 Direct Link

I want to go home.

I do not want to go home.

Yes, I am avoiding you.  Your sense is correct.

I don’t know why I am avoiding you.

There is something about you

makes me

unaccountably sad?

 

That is not true.

That cannot be true.

 

Maybe you make me realize I am

already unaccountably sad?

 

That could only be true if I were already

unaccountably sad.

 

I trip over these ideas. 

I trip over you.

I don’t want to trip over you.

I don’t want to cause you pain.

 

Maybe you just make me realize I

am unaccountably tired.

03/20 Direct Link

I have said before that the wind blows

here all the time.

You can hear it howling around the corners

of the house,

feel it pressing against the windows

and sense it prying cold into your body.

 

It careens through the fir, pine, cedar, hemlock,

marble and sandstone in the cemetery next door.

It whips the power lines and causes the grass to lie down

where it grows.

 

The wind creeps up the back of your neck

and crawls into your skull.

It gets into you that way

blowing everything else out of your

mind and making you its zombie.

03/21 Direct Link

I have gone to see my mother at the hospital.  My father has a cold.  He has caught it from my mother at the hospital, although predictably enough they are arguing who gave it to whom.  We all know she had it first.  What is also clear is that she uses his alleged susceptibility to colds to isolate him.  This may be the reason he has reached the age of 90.  This may be the reason he has no living friends.  This may be the reason he is lonely.  These are not simple mechanisms, the gears of a 60-year marriage.

03/22 Direct Link

I spend two hours with my mother at the hospital.  Each week she thinks she will get to go home.  She really does not want to go home.  This is what I think.  I think patients have subtle ways of telling their doctors they are not ready to go home while loudly declaring their passion to go home.  On the eve of her discharge she passes out in physical therapy.  She tells the doctor she has two daughters living with her who will take care of her.  The doctor knows she does not have two daughters.  She is not discharged. 

03/23 Direct Link

I go back to my father’s house to check on him.  I remember my mother saying that if he gets worse to take him to the Urgent Care in New Carlilse.  Is this the day I put too much salt on the fried potatoes?  How do you get too much salt on the fried potatoes?  In the two hours I have been gone he has taken a dive.  He is a puddle of badly wheezing mucous in the recliner.  I send my sister a text message and bundle him in my car and go searching for the recommended urgent care.

03/24 Direct Link

If I were going to be here for an extended stay I would buy a real chair and a chair mat for this desk.  This chair was made to be decorative, not to actually sit in and work.  The desk is not much better.  I would likely replace it too.  How much would a chair and chair pad cost me?  A hundred bucks?  I have already been here a month and a half and am likely to be here another month and a half.  If I knew I was going to be here another two months I would do it.

03/25 Direct Link

He is such a sweet old man.  This is what all the nurses and aides say about my father.  It is testimony to one of my favorite sayings:  “It is easy to be nicer than you really are for short periods of time.”  After he is actually under their care for about a week, I think they will be ready to get rid of him.  Maybe not.  Maybe I am wrong.  I could be wrong.  Perhaps he is not a testosterone-mad raving bully brutish boring abusive self-absorbed stingy lout.  I make mistakes about people sometimes when I make snap judgments.

03/26 Direct Link

I open the door to the stench of dog piss and the sight of shredded newspapers.  My parent’s brown toy poodle has also torn yesterday’s shredded doggy training pads out of the trash and re-shredded those.  I put the throw rug in the washing machine and put down a clean one, but it is clear that what I was told about the dog’s “training” is not true.  She thinks papers are for shredding and any carpeted surface is fair game for elimination.  When I let her outside, the cat shreds the poodle, so she is afraid to leave the house.

03/27 Direct Link

I try to get comfortable in the elegantly padded chair nailed to its permanent position four inches from the desk.  Sometimes I find it convenient to sit sideways because it is really such an ordeal to get my legs between the chair and the desk.  The old trick of grabbing the seat and bumping yourself forward works a little, but it only puts you into a position that you cannot get back out of.  There is no reverse on this mechanism.  You are left like a kitten stuck in a too tiny box, meowing around you for a way out.

03/28 Direct Link
I might be scared.  I might be a little overwhelmed.  The later is usually the case with me and I can usually deal with it by making out a schedule.  The old ‘planning is useless but indispensable.’  I know I have to get gasoline.  I keep saying that to myself.  I seem to be confused as to how to pay for it, and I should not be.  I am because my sister shoved my father’s wallet at me yesterday saying, “Here, pay for everything with this.”   I don’t want to pay cash for gasoline.  Who pays for gas with cash?

 

03/29 Direct Link

My father is 90.  In some ways he is in remarkable shape for 90. However all the things that life has meant to him have slipped away from him; shooting, hunting, woodworking, reading, walking in the woods, and so on.  He has maybe 20 percent vision and can walk maybe 30 yards reliably with assistance.  He cannot read the paper by himself.  When we go out to eat, I read the menu selections to him. All he can do is talk and frankly no one wants to listen.  He has found nothing that interests him to replace his previous passions.

03/30 Direct Link

The willow branches flip out past my window, a lighter green than the spruce across the road.  They are motioning, indicating.  They are a notion.  They are flipping, dark-tipped fingernails moving my attention in a certain direction.  They are painting scenes but they are also providing the curve in fine air that draws my mind to the house next door where the visiting nurse sits with my father and the piece of paper I have given her requesting a psychiatric evaluation.  He will not want this.  He did not want the nurse.  But I have come with many unwanted things.

03/31 Direct Link

I have been here for six weeks now.  I came because my mother was in the hospital and  to help out with my father.  It was a curve ball because my father was the problem not my mother.  In that time I have found my management self emerging.  The son is not useful here. The son is in danger. The son becomes co-opted, scammed, abused, and run-over.  The manager is needed.  Things need to be sorted out.  Decisions need to be made.  Situations need to be evaluated.  Systems need to be set up.  It is not what I had expected.