"Your heart is not pumping like it should," the cardiologist said. "You're in heart failure. It's amazing that you're running at all." He said her ejection fraction was at 20%, meaning 80% of her blood stayed in the heart's ventricle instead of pumping through her body. "Do you want me to start running less?" she [...]
In early 1979, when Eugene Smith returned “back to the world” from the Guyanese jungle, my father had made his return “back to the world” more than a decade before, following his completion of a tour in the Vietnamese jungle. When he first returned, my dad was a 22-year-old husband and father of one – like Smith upon his return. Smith’s wife and one child, however, were not waiting for him, nor were they with him; along with Smith’s mother, they had died in the jungle with over 900 other members of Peoples Temple.
too long miles later & I have sputtered like this engine needing, I bet, to tug the cables.
For the first time in four years my ICD "delivered therapy," which I discovered days after "the event" when my electrophysiologist's nurse called to ask "if I was okay."
the lankiest one, voice on the verge of collecting crushes, is making himself up as he goes, a danger my dad’s admonitions cannot prepare him for; will justify the conflation of boy to body. Real Enough is real enough.
there are ways of being alive that look nothing like the somatic supposition opposite death. To be dead is something else altogether.
The cracks in my heart have not come from bodies offered in the guise of honey; haven’t shaken my hand seconds too long; taken my eyes for gazing balls; my limbs for casualwear. What pocks its surface could be mistaken for the debris their kind leave behind
What you do know is that what the women said about you is true: you are a cavernous hollow in whom no man can find his rightful end. And who doesn’t want to end somehow? To plant a flag, surrender and wilt into rest?
For today’s sermon, we borrow from the book of Nikki (Giovanni, that is).
Editor’s Note: While our usual editorial style uses poets’ last names on second reference, this essay intentionally breaks with that style as a nod to the intimacy the poet has cultivated with audiences and readers.
By Kendra N. Bryant, PhD
I turned myself into myself and was
men intone my loving name
All praises All praises
I am the one who would save
—Nikki Giovanni, “Ego Tripping (There May Be a Reason Why)”
Jesus wept. (John 11:35)
I find Jesus and Nikki to be quite similar, maybe even one and the same. Admittedly, however, I don’t know either that well. But I think I know enuf about them to make such an assertion. See, I’m thinking if Jesus really is on Mars, then Nikki’s fascination with space is really her fascination with herself, but not in an ego-tripping, self-centered fashion; more like a return to Self. Otherwise…
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It wasn't remembering at all but realizing--probably that's what I was doing, you know, that you are dead, and it felt like chewing foil