The Long Road to Hospice


One of the first images on the walls entering the Underworld.

[An odyssey of a man in Hospice. Chapter one of many]

Life was good — and we still wondered

How many more times will a mother cry

Before the thunderclap beckons from some distant places

To soothe the wound of the living?

Inflicted by the dying —

Without concern, for time passes

And enters into the unspoken

Where time will pass no more.

Forever with us, for those who wish to be alone.

— For now, an elevator, a hall pass, a locked door opened with a magic button along the wall

And then – The Underworld.

Hell passes through the unreality.

So real, the life unimagined

That comes with death

And enters our world as a marauder

And leaves as a whisper of memories past.

Memorize the signs, for something is sacred.

Caretaker Plus – written on his hospital bed

No beeping – no more electronics

Just an IV and an old man

Much older than he should be

Curled up symmetry of form molting into the underworld.

Note the significance of form:

Bruised flesh from a fall only a week past

Concave outlines of his skull that reveal far too much humanity

Withered flesh, so eager to lose its grip

To let us go.

Eyes don’t wander. He looks around, but doesn’t see

Golden pills – red and blue and all things in between – anything to help him through this time, beyond a merciful

hand to guide him to his death – death is release – we cannot let go.

I say ‘let my people go!’

Beyond this point, he has already gone

There is no more for him in this world

Please, let him go.

Inhuman cries – turning in his bed, cleansed of filth — except the bit that matters

Words that make sense in purpose,

But not meaning – cries of no father or friend or brother

Hours pass

The moment is still with you – forever with you

Tainting the memory of things.

Friends, brothers, everyone enters in passing

Only one is allowed to leave.

We huddle around him

Eyes wander

What will he see?

Open untouched tapioca

Five unopened bottles of Ensure

The waiter walks into the room asking about supper.

I admire the bones — They held on much longer than the rest of him.

The flesh, I care for less.

It gave up much too soon and

Revealed his every weakness

Bloody scabs and bruises along his arms, head, chest

The color purple, darker and darker

It eats him alive.

So, now he rests

What drugs allow you to forget the cruelty we exhibit for the doomed?

No beating, no ringing, no sounds to assure the mind of passing

Just the faint breath that barely leaves his lips

We look out from the window and see mountains far away

He looks out to a brick building.

Eyes wide

What does he see?

Feed him acid and let him see God

Demand of the afterlife the same cruelty

If only to maintain this — One reality to the next

Let him die.

With no more riddles on his lips

Why do we suffer?

No more.

An older woman wearing all white, including a white coat with a red cross on the front pocket

Walks in without a smile.

Reservation confirmed for the underworld

But not the great beyond

Nurses enter — we leave

We can’t by chance hear his inhuman screams, as they shift him in his bed

They wheel him away

We follow behind

Creeping death, four idols in the form of friends and family

The writing is on the walls

Omens of good faith

Charlatan’s words printed

And bound by wooden frame

The moon is halved within the palm – thumb and pinky fingers hold a white dove each

With words of hope and faith

Blessed, the touch

Removed from our bodies

To enter this final place.

What is the underworld?

A waiting room with a coffee machine

Dim light – no more mountains

Brick walls outside.

The sun is hot — The day is beautiful


Cradled like a baby to one side

Head low,

One last bed time story

From mother’s maidenly lips

And we all fall asleep.

The walls are bare

The walls are bare.

Blanket tucked in – one window with one view

Onward, toward the great beyond

An old man, but not the same

Just tired from the cruelest game.

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