Reader Poem by Henry Medina

I’m taking a poetry workshop in Whittier taught by Eric Morago (check out his web site ericmorago.com). He gave us this prompt: write a poem in which you imagine/describe your own death. Here is what I wrote:

LIVING ON THE EDGE

I will die
at 3 a.m.
trying to escape
the third-story apartment
of a sociopath
who swears
remembering
both parents
fucking him
in his crib
at age one,
cutting him
with blades
& even
inviting their friends
to the
bloody baptism.
Feigning
having to pee
to exit his bedroom,
I will lunge for
the front door,
after being
tormented by his
ice pick,
stapler,
two heavy butcher knives,
an arthritic gun
& dark rats
in that order.
(Miracle
I survived.)
I will run
into his courtyard,
him pursuing me
like an unstoppable memory.
As a last recourse,
I will climb
an eight-inch ledge,
cars honking
& fading far below me.
My right shoe
smeared in shit
from a streetwise cat
(that perhaps
in another life
could have been
loved indoors
by a caring family)
will slip
on the ridge,
& without time
to form a prayer
to accuse
or excuse my stalker,
without fully conceiving
the loneliness
that placed me on that edge,
I will fall
backwards,
my heart
beating
& beating
faster
& faster,
a parachute
trying
to open.
My head
made soup
will hear
the ambulance’s
distant howl,
relieved,
thinking,
“At last
comes
help.”

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