The Furious Gazelle

Literary as hell.

Tag: Memoir

Book Review: Sick, a memoir by Porochista Khakpour

Review By Tess Tabak

 

When a slew of mysterious symptoms leaves you terribly ill, how long does it take to have your illness validated, to receive a diagnosis? If you are a woman, especially a young woman of color with patchy health insurance and little money, it can be a very long time.

In Sick, Porochista Khakpour takes us through her journey as she struggles with poor health, drug addiction, and a quest for a diagnosis. She also takes us through her history with Lyme, both in herself and others: a boyfriend’s mother who became seriously ill with it; a dog she adopted that suffered from the disease; the many places she visited where she saw and ignored Tick Check warnings.

Sick is engrossing, reading somewhat like a lurid “it happened to me”-type article, written by a literary master. She spares few details, including raving emails she sent to friends at the height of her desperation about the undiagnosed illness: “I’ve realized my urine is entirely too alkaline.” Continue reading

“Preparing the Nursery,” by Joe Oswald

 

My wife had selected Winnie the Pooh as our baby’s theme. “Classic, not Disney,” she’d often repeat to family and friends as they called to congratulate us and ask for suggestion on gifts or clothing.

Being new to all of this, I soon found out that matching and coordinating was a common expectation when it came to such things as babies and preparing a nursery. Together we had carefully selected everything from blankets, comforter and floor rug, to the Classic Pooh table lamp that would sit on the dresser.

So, at first I was a little worried about the dresser. According to the instructions I had everything I needed for assembly – Phillips screw driver, small adjustable wrench and hammer to tap the tiny black nails to the back of the unit to prevent it, as the instructions explained, from collapsing when finished.  But, until I sliced open the box and let the pieces slide out precisely stacked as they had been when they left the shop floor half a world away, I did not know that the sand color of its smooth veneer finish was in fact an exact match to the sand colored trail of the wall boarder, on which a series of Pooh-Bears continuously roamed, night into day and day into night, honey pot in hand, appropriately accompanied by bees encircling the nursery at a height level with the top walnut railing of the crib. Continue reading

“Near the End,” a memoir by Janet Buck

Near the End

Janet Buck

Your skull is packed with razor thoughts, as Father is dying a horrible death, his camel chin, so tired of rising to meet your buzzard eyes. And yes, you have the power to take a papercut, turn it to rivers of blood. There’s a catheter bag taped to the hair on his leg. You know, when pouches of urine pull on the tube, it hurts much more. “I’ll empty it” is all I say. You’re busy with some young woman, bleached-fried hair, doing your nails—donning a silk-slick negligée–clearly the skin of a Python with those aging spots. Next she’ll dye your old coiffure, see if she can change the world. Yours, not his. I hate that fact.

You treat his dying as if it’s yours. He doesn’t deserve that Hell-made pickle of your tongue. None of us deserve your tongue. But go ahead, do what you do: tear down shrines, release the memories of lives that matter, toss them with that snotty tissue in the trash. When he’s gone, it’s free-fire zone. I have a mouth; I’ll use it then. Because of you, every step I make to hold the conch shell of my father’s hand is a field of mines. I’m the one who scratches the genie’s itching head, rubs his shoulders with all the power in my wrists and fingers, in my arms, as he quietly reads the news. Do you know your sour words are bile and hairballs in his throat? I make him crêpes for breakfast when you refuse to switch on morning coffee pots, but manage to open a gallon of scotch, telling someone watching you drink from a bed stand cup: Oh, it’s only apple juice, you say. And we pretend that we believe to save him from the whipping post.

I hate the thought of my father making love to a woman built of shale and splintered wood. That heavy clay horse in the pompous living room you never use but had to have—like six mink coats—will do just fine. I could come up from behind, knock at the door of a head filled up with pharmacies you never needed from the start. And you. You over there—the one with eyes glazed over same as donut holes, the one who will not hold me when he’s gone—I’ll bet you’re stealing his morphine pills.

***

It’s over now. I stand beside him, stumbling over syllables. “A Love Poem to My Father” is the piece I wrote. My wrist too weak to hold the frame, a hospice nurse helps me out, reaching underneath to steady the paper pinned by glass, now hit by cold November winds. She knows these cracking cricket sounds will live forever in my voice. You are screaming, Get that body off my bed! I wish it were some bullshit job of paraphrase. Where’s that horse? A thick, black zippered body bag is on a stretcher telling me there’s no tomorrow.

           


Janet Buck is a seven-time Pushcart Nominee & the author of four full-length collections of poetry. Buck’s most recent work is featured in The Birmingham Arts Journal, Antiphon, Offcourse, PoetryBay, Poetrysuperhighway, Abramelin, The Writing Disorder, Misfit Magazine, Lavender Wolves, River Babble, The Danforth Review & other journals worldwide. Her latest print collection of verse, Dirty Laundry, is currently available at all fine bookstores. Buck’s debut novel, Samantha Stone: A Novel of Mystery, Memoir & Romance, was released courtesy of Vine Leaves Press in September, 2016. Janet lives & writes in Southern Oregon—just hours away from Crater Lake, one of the seven wonders of the world. For links, announcements, and interviews with Janet, visit her new website: www.janetibuck.com

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