Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Pain. On Fathers, an On-line Floricanto. news ' notes

Michael Sedano

Some hospital workers I ran across recently have the same attitude toward pain that I pretend is my attitude toward hard work. Years ago, clearing slag out of the mill race at Kaiser Steel Fontana, one of us would slide his shovel into the layer of slag, hold out the iron waste in preparation for flinging it back, and say, “I love Hard Work. I could watch it all day long.”

All night long and into day two, the staff watched a patient go through repeated bouts with agonizing heart pain, doing their best to follow doctor’s orders and nothing worked, that poor guy. I would have said something, sabes, but I was the guy writhing on the bed screaming and crying at level 9 and 10 pain.

I used to write SOP, Standard Operating Procedures, and train workers to comply the right way. Variance is always necessary, that’s why there’s an SOP: To have a standard to vary from.

In business, mindless obedience to SOP blocks growth, produces unhappy customers, and makes people comfortable in their job instead of attentive to their profession. In my cardiothoracic unit, mindless obedience to SOP would have killed me.

Moving into a room from the ER amid bouts of pain blur memories as soon as everything happens. People with superb skills cycle in and out of awareness. Sadly, their names disappear in the whirl. I speak or chat with everyone I encounter, Spanish or English, and don’t care who she was, the woman who told me I speak really good English after I described one of the workers as Spanish-speaking.

My wife was trapped in the middle of all this. I can’t begin to imagine what she must have felt. She asked one RN about something on the computer monitor and the nurse sneered, “Let me do my job. I’ll talk to you later.” I woulda said something, but I was distracted.

That nurse is a woman comfortable in her job—knows exactly what she’ll do next and doesn’t have to balance alternatives nor go out of her way. That nurse must have been absent from class the day the good nurses learned the meaning of “helping professional.” I suppose she could watch great pain all day, if the SOP says don’t make a phone call.

Here’s why my personal experience means something to you.

I was done, that’s it and I knew it. I cried knowing how much I was going to miss. I thought of my granddaughter’s smile. Out of the blue, an Army buddy called so I got to say goodbye. I called loved ones and said goodbye, crying in their ears. But I wasn’t done after all and I’m sorry I put them through that.

I have a Patient Advocate. My daughter confronted that nurse to ask why she didn’t call the doc to tell him the SOP wasn’t working? Wasn’t part of the procedure. When my daughter insisted, it brought matters to a close. I was assigned a compassionate RN and my daughter arranged a new heart doctor. He’s the guy who changed the meds and that has made all the difference.

Gente, if you find yourself in a grim hospital situation, don’t trust to SOP. Have a Patient Advocate. Without my daughter’s intervention, I was done, sorry to say. I saw the Ancestors again.

At one point I looked to the nighttime window and a few of the Ancestors were there. Then a few others appeared. I recognized them; they had appeared in my mother’s hospital room and told me to take her home with me. That time I crossed over, Ancestors didn’t want me; they sent me back to burn sage. This time, they stayed at the window looking across the room at me saying nothing. I exhaled. The Ancestors were gone. The pain returned.

The next day the new medicine worked its wonders. No pain. I sat chatting with my wife and daughter, a bright day outside. A movement at the periphery of vision. I turned to look. The Ancestors paused at the window, not in vigil. I welled up at their news. The Ancestors told me I won’t be missing my granddaughter’s growing up. On the fourth day I came home.

I am growing white sage now. When I get home, I’ll give a nod to William Cullen Bryant, and burn a leaf to the Ancestors.

So live, that when thy summons comes to join
The innumerable caravan, which moves
To that mysterious realm, where each shall take
His chamber in the silent halls of death,
Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night,
Scourged to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave,
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.

Mail Bag • San Antonio

On Father: An On-line Floricanto
Frank Acosta, Sarah St George, Ramón Piñero, María J. Estrada, Prettythunder Jolaoso

Of A Child and Mother By Frank Acosta
Dad By Sarah St George
Happy Fathers Day By Ramón Piñero
“Lo Tierno” By Dr. María J. Estrada
Prophecy By Prettythunder Jolaoso

Five responses to a call for poems from The Moderators of Poetry of Resistance, an online community.

Of A Child and Mother
By Frank Acosta

For Mama Maria & All Mothers

The love of a child
And a blessed mother
Nothing is sweeter
In God’s creation
A love that can save
And bind a nation
I saw a little one
Burst out of their skin
For the chance to laugh
To dance, and sing
Child spirits fill the room
To keep the old ones true
Child presses cheek
To their mothers’ hand
Earth and heaven merge
With flesh, blood, and spirit
A perfect moment when we
Reside in the heart of God
The love of a child
And a blessed mother
These are eyes with which
We should see the world
Tomorrow through a mothers’ heart
I will see only sister and brothers

By Sarah St George

Remember when I was young
and less than enlightened?
I told you and mom I wanted to
drop out of high school and devote
my life to poetry and philosophy.
You would have none of it.
Every morning you kicked open my door,
yodeled in my ear and jumped on my bed
until I got myself dressed and out the door.
You said:
“No daughter of mine is going to be
some Dharma sniffing, bohemian.
As long as you live under my roof,
you will live to your fullest potential.”
I thanked you by getting an associates
degree in philosophy. You said “Hey,
at least it's better than nothing.”
And then there was my first
true love, Eric Ballesszinski.
On my sixteenth Birthday, he kissed me
on the front porch. When he slipped
his hand under my shirt to touch my
holy juntas, you jumped out of the
bushes and kicked him in the balls.
You said:
“No daughter of mine is going
to be some pizza-faced, snaggle tooth,
punk's baby's Mama. As long as you
live under my roof, you will keep your dignity.”
I thanked you for scaring Eric away
by getting knocked up by a jobless musician.
You said “At least your children are beautiful.”
When I was in college, I got a job
at a grocery store. Everyday you would
come through my line and take pleasure
in embarrassing me by belting out “My girl”
and holding up a tabloid and asking me
if I thought Brittany Spear's boobs
had gotten any bigger.
One day a grouchy old man in front of you
yelled at me for squishing his tomatoes.
You called out to him: “I'll show you the true meaning
of squished tomatoes if you ever
talk to my daughter that way again.”
I thanked you by squishing
your bread the next day.
You said “Someday you'll learn,
Kid. Someday you'll learn.”
As I watch you struggle
to walk up the stairs,
eat a bowl of soup, and twirl my kids up in the air,
I can't help but look upon
the days where you tormented
me endlessly out of love
You have always been an all seeing,
all knowing, all embarrassing warrior.
Don't stop fighting now.
Think of your cancer as
my youthful stupidity,
all of the know it all dweebs I brought home,
and sleezy old men who wanted to be my sugar daddy.
Yodel it light years away,
kick it in the cojones until it begs for mercy,
Squish it like a rotten tomato.
Tell it to go fuck itself
until the end of time.
Don't let it diminish your spirit.
As long as I am living you will
always be my rock star, my superhero, my Jesus,
Buddha, and Lao Tzu.
Please don't give up on me now.
I need you too much.
I love you too much.

Happy Fathers Day
By Ramón Piñero

He was
in and out
more times
out than in
he was happier
than not
her left
and right,
flinging her
across the
bed and she
landed on
the boy
more than

He never
saw the progeny
of his children.
those bright-eyed
of his children.

the boy would
go round to
see if he could
a pair of shoes
it's the first
day of
school. the
boy tired
of stuffing
his shoes
with the
daily news.

the boy learned
from that man
learned to drink
to be irresponsible
to beat the women
who loved him. t
o become the
man he was taught
to be.

the boy and
the girls
learned much
from this waste
of skin.
they have
driven that
demon to where
it belongs;
away from their
hearts and away
from their souls.

“Lo Tierno”
By Dr. María J. Estrada
(A much overdue poem for my Mama.)

Es un verde tierno

I hear the echoes
Long past
Mi Madre
With such an ojo for nature

In Spanish

Means tender, loving

Not like those old
Grating Angry cries
From ‘Apa

‘Apa would come home
To tattered wooden house
In abandoned orange groves

Worked to the veins and bones
Three days straight—No break
Heat that killed mi gente
Pummeling him into this Salvaje

He would come to house
Sun-filled rage on tongue &
Harsh desert death on fists

Tearing shit up
Tearing mother up

The next day,
Mama would be sowing a table cloth
Verde tierno,
Showing me each careful stitch

“Así. Vez, mija? Así.
Que bonito el verde tiernito, que no?
Como mi niñita, tan tiernita.”

Me a sapling at her feet
Soaking in the world

I looked with untrained eyes
Her work, delicate, wonderful

It was a beautiful

By Prettythunder Jolaoso

Those dark lilies
outside the cold window
the widow’s peak rising up in shadow

how did they come to be here
she asks
looking down at the black lilies
beneath the pines

the children
did not know
shouldn’t have looked
into that Stellar Jay’s nest
she tore into her babies
that summer

from the cold window
always watching

he stood

Meet the Poets
Of A Child and Mother By Frank Acosta
Dad By Sarah St George
Happy Fathers Day By Ramón Piñero
“Lo Tierno” By Dr. María J. Estrada
Prophecy By Prettythunder Jolaoso

Sarah St. George is a poet turning up the volume in the quiet corner of Connecticut. Since the age of twelve she has been using poetry to make exes infamous, unravel the enigmas of existence, and cope with trauma and loss. Her work covers a wide range of topics including nude Muppets, domestic violence, and the joys and challenges of motherhood. She has been featured in several anthologies and literary magazines. When not writing and sharing her poems, Sarah enjoys spending time with her son and daughter, learning, walking around town with her sloth puppet, and making jewelry. She is currently working as a an instructional assistant and hopes to one day teach creative writing at the college level. 

Former Bay Area Poet exiled to the wilds of Central Florida, where the further north you travel, the farther south to go

DR. MARIA J. ESTRADA graduated with a Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Composition from Washington State University. She grew up in the desert outside of Yuma, Arizona in a barrio comprised of new Mexican immigrants and first-generation Chicanos. Drawing from this setting and experiences, she writes in numerous genres from serious fiction to horror, and writes poetry, regularly. She is a tenured faculty member in English and lives in Chicago, Illinois with her wonderful, supportive husband, two remarkable children, and two mischievous cats. Her books The Long Walk and La Bruja in the Orchard can be found on Amazon and Smashwords. (Her work is free to students upon request.) You can learn more about her other books and writing happenings at barrioblues.com.


lenasal said...

Arrive at work 10 min. late. Not a problem.
Clock in, check email, look at my task list, get to work. Mark a couple of items "completed."
Take a couple of deep breaths, and a few minutes to indulge in my morning treat: La Bloga.
Read from beginning to end, and get back to work.
Deadlines, my computer crashes.
I can't do anything about it because I can't see for the tears in my eyes.
Glad no one wants or needs anything from me right now because my heart is breaking and only grief would come flooding out.
I have been moved to tears.
Not all days start like this.
It will be a good day.
Thank you.

jmu said...

Hey, vato, I thought that your ancestors burned copal...

No matter. You are back and now it is your chance to again rededicate yourself to the better angels of your nature. You get another bite at the apple.