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Pharmako/Thanatos, May 2017

How I Died,
Journal Notes, May 2017

Dylan H. died in a solo car crash. He must have fallen asleep. He was on his way home after filling a scrip at the pharmacy. He’d had trouble sleeping. And no wonder: he’d had metastasized stage four colon cancer and several years of intensive treatment: including chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and several surgeries. His last PET scan had come back clear.

His parents had the body at home and we visited. His sister Lisa was there. When Dylan’s cancer was discovered by a chance test, Lisa had herself tested also, and found that she had stage three rectal cancer. Dylan had been lukewarm about going for therapy until his sister showed the way. And Lisa has been active raising consciousness about cancer:

     Not all cancer is pink,

she says.

We burned a huge pile of brush the next day. I’ve burned a lot of brush piles—I kind of like it: setting fires in the woods makes me feel grown up. But this one was too big, and most of it had been there for months and was tinder dry. I tried moving parts of the pile but couldn’t do it—didn’t have the strength.

So I hooked up several lengths of hose with a nozzle at the end and turned on the pump and lit the brush. The fire got so hot so quickly I couldn’t get close enough to grab the hose and then the heat split the hose and I couldn’t make it spray further than a few feet—not nearly far enough. In two minutes I was out of breath and wheezing.

The fire was suddenly huge. It was in a meadow away from trees, but now I wasn’t sure it was far enough. The flames were reaching twenty feet into the sky. Laura had gone down to the barn to find another rake, but she finally appeared and I yelled for her to bring another hose. All was well in the end: the grass was still green and though it was burning out away from the pile it was burning slowly and it was easy to spray out. The crisis passed in about ten minutes.

I was SO tired. Wheezing. Some of my hair was singed and curled. Sobering. And I was pretty sore the next day.


Cancer elbows its way to the top of the stack. Medical appointments quickly multiply. And for me, most of them required a four hour trip to San Francisco. Other obligations take a back seat. And that also goes for one’s primary caregiver, in my case my wife Laura. Even journal entries tend to have big gaps.


May 15, Monday
Dear Children of 2100—
Do you still have narcissistic leaders full of lies and corruption?
Do you have kiings?
Do you still have climate “skeptics”? Who say it’s “natural,” or, it’s the sun, or, climate scientists are stupid and don’t understand physics, or, maybe, well, yes, there is a problem, but we should not endanger the quarterly profits of big corporations?


16 May, Tuesday
Rain! Perhaps the last until fall.

Poems I never wrote: “The Public Drinking Fountain.”

Or should it be “water fountain”? One of the more sensible civic projects. Water, free for all. All should have water.
Rome. China. Nasty global corporations “privatizing” water in poor countries.


Little flower,
	are you for bee,
	or are you for me?

Little bird,
	how is it my thoughts
	you are singing.


Starter died on my old truck. I’d parked on a hill, was able to pop the clutch, and drive it into a shop. The man in front of me was carrying on with the proprietor about how where he lived near the coast was getting too liberal. “Makes me sick in my stomach.”

I kind of wanted to talk about that: what are these gut reactions that drive our politics? I have gut reactions: hypocrisy drives me crazy, and the callousness of the privileged, and lies. I wanted to know what was making him sick. Maybe we could find some common ground.

But his rant quickly got more and more bizarre: a radio show in San Diego had reported that Jerry Brown, governor of California, had used a band of armed thugs to pass gasoline tax increase. “You know why this state is broke? It’s because we spend all our money educating illegal immigrants.”

At that point I stepped up. Said “Oh right, they have SO much money” or something like that. Which kind of ended it.

“I wasn’t asking you to agree with me,” he said before he left.

Somehow it was friendly. Country manners, I guess.

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