I’m no shaman, but I’ve lived and died
many times, and here I am singing.

-Marilyn Kallet

Swollen arm
neck, flank
veins like
worms stuffed
in sausage
Blood clot:
lysed. Sluice
of meds
Pissing 8oz
of black-red
blood, sebaceous
like yesterday’s
coffee. Blood from
the oldest hurt
Rib: excised
Forced to breathe
into lack
amplify absence
Dilaudid drip
bottles of
Xarelto, Percocet
Not shitting
for a week
Wound leaking
fluid like
neon urine
Collateral veins
now varicose
Skin with
bruises. Bills
from the surgeon
bills from the
bills from
bills from
bills from the
hospital with
inflated dosages
duplicate charges
from all the above
A summer of
anemia: I gulped
breaths through
July’s wilt, dodged
knives & thin
paper, let this body
wither. I lost
30 pounds
I lost a good love
I lost hours
the last months
of my twenties
reviving the fugue
depression exposed
years ago
A walking melody
to carry me
miles from
my office through
Knoxville’s suburban
sprawl. A bourbon
melody to blunt
me with a familiar
hammer. A poet's
melody for fare-
well notes &
A white flag melody
to evaluate
reliable methods
I woke in the haze
of each predawn
and chewed frozen
grapes to cool
myself. Through the fog
the droning notes,
one friend offered
her silence, and
I sheathed myself
the loudest
answers fell away
Can’t remember
all the fat
I trimmed
but I know
what I gained
In 2015
I did not
kill myself
I decided
to sing