On Cancer, Guns, and Hit ‘n Runs

The chemo sessions wore him down,
He so despised the sterile smells,
The chatter, beeps, and flimsy gown,
And then those plain disgusting gels.

But no more thoughts of days gone by,
Of chances lost, of things begun,
And multitud’nous reasons why
Some of those things just won’t get done.

No, none of that. He closed his eyes,
And saw with utmost clarity
The very light that clarifies
The meaning of reality.

Deceased, 12-20-88

She wore a smile of gratitude,
And softly blinked to see just how
Her crazy life had been renewed,
Was tumor-free for eight years now.

Her loving husband, bratty child,
A recent job promotion, and
Their town home fashionably styled,
All came together just as planned.

She left her car to cross the street,
When, BANG BANG BANG – no time to dive,
Her body hit the cold concrete,
And sprang the rest of her alive.

Deceased, 8-13-94

Returning from the library,
He tried to navigate his thoughts
From English and Geography
To complicated scatter plots.

He’d battled cancer as a child,
And thought that was his hardest time,
Until that college kid went wild,
And shot him in a tragic crime.

Disease and wounds had left him strong,
And strong he was in times of strife,
But then, that night, something went wrong:
A drunken driver took his life.

Deceased, 11-6-08.

I am amongst you even as
I breathe, and wince, and laugh, and cry;
I’ve been with you from evermore.
Deceased, mm-dd-yy.

Notes: The first subject is the oldest, succumbs to cancer. The second is younger than the first, dodges cancer, dies in a shooting. The third subject is the youngest, survives cancer and a shooting, dies young in an accident. The progressively increasing irony in manner of death is dismissed by the closing quatrain which gathers all of humanity together in one place outside of the bounds of time.

 

Children of the Year

How Winter loved his sister, Spring,
Though all that he did well preserve,
(Yes, each and every little thing)
She meddled in without reserve;
But then her sweet and cheery smile
Would melt him in a little while.

Ah! Lovely Spring, a tender heart,
Enlivened all with just her touch,
And wept when Winter did depart,
For he indulged her very much;
Yet how she glowed so bright with glee
When Summer came for company

Because she was her favorite one;
They treasured all the time they spent,
For all that was by Spring begun,
Did Summer sweetly complement,
Until the farewell grackle call
Would welcome in capricious Fall.

Well, Autumn was his proper name,
For Summer leaves where Autumn goes
To huff at those who shun his game,
And shower gifts on whom he chose,
Till Winter comes to calm him down,
And wait for Spring’s return to town.

 

The Ever Rising Tide

Your anger is an ocean wave
You cannot leave to rise,
For once arisen must it brave
A path to its demise:

To slowly draw into its breast
Each vessel in its wake,
Then shatter all upon its crest
Before the downward break;

Or swell in silent solitude,
Across the fickle seas
To crash upon your shores and quench
Your grove of poison trees.
(Thank you, Mr. Blake.)

So slay no spirit, spare your heart,
And know the ocean wide,
That you may breathe the winds that quell
The ever rising tide.

 

Familiar Friend

I saw a man the other day,
Somewhere in Bolingbrook,
Who curiously sent my way
A long and knowing look.

And I in turn stared back at him,
For surely I did see,
Deep in his eye, a trace of dim
Familiarity.

He looked away, a bit incensed
By my alacrity,
So I broke off my stare, but sensed
His gaze return to me.

We nursed this blend of sweet and sour
As we checked out our goods,
Before we left to make for our
Respective neighborhoods.

Of all the glimpses we did plot
So surreptitiously,
I won’t forget that one I caught
Of him catch one of me.

I strained to think where we had met;
The library? The bank?
The traffic signal pause beset
By stares that weren’t that blank?

I could have, and I should have asked,
But then it was too late
To see the face of chance unmasked
By helping hands of fate.

Or could it be that we have shared
A word that binds us both,
When in the Garden we declared
That sempiternal oath?

It is my hope that we will meet
In time or timeless end;
Until then, mine is patience sweet.
Farewell, familiar friend.

 

Jameel and Jameelah

No man could compare with gracious Jameel,
And there was no lady who was fairer than Jameelah;
Her beauty unmatched and manner genteel
Had earned her the admiration of the whole qabeelah.

So when he made known his noble
The tribespeople feared an immediate rejection.
But when she did bashfully give her consent,
Jameel was commended by them all with great affection.

But He who draws near the ones who love true
Bestows on them roses covered in thorns,
For sweet is the end of the righteous who
Endeavor a peace that trial adorns.

With only a week until the big day,
Jameelah was injured in an accidental fire;
Her beautiful face was burned in a way,
And destined to never be an object of desire.

She sent for Jameel, and fought back her tears,
Determined to free him from a formidable kindness,
But news of Jameel came flooding her ears:
A poisonous meal had just resulted in his blindness.

But He who draws near the ones who love true
Bestows on them roses covered in thorns,
For sweet is the end of the righteous who
Endeavor a peace that trial adorns.

They met, and they wept, and patiently sat
Considering carefully the burdens that they carried.
And all of the tribe was marveling at
The beautiful way in which they happened to be married.

Contented were they in all of their strife,
They raised a sweet child who was as lovely as her mother,
While time gnawed away at their mantle of life,
A mantle they treasured and devoted to each other.

But He who draws near the ones who love true
Bestows on them roses covered in thorns,
For sweet is the end of the righteous who
Endeavor a peace that trial adorns.

Jameel could not stop the flow of his tears,
In patient submission at the grave of his Jameelah;
And after a span of sixty five years,
He thought of the times when he pretended not to see her.

The scars in her face her heart did conceal,
His love went beyond the thing that made him feign his blindness.
How pure was the love of gracious Jameel,
Surpassed only by the likes of his Jameelah’s kindness.

And He who draws near the ones who love true
Bestows on them roses covered in thorns,
For sweet is the end of the righteous who
Endeavor a peace that trial adorns.

 

Javeed Chida is a software engineer and aspiring poet living in Bolingbrook, Illinois (about thirty miles from Chicago).

These poems are among the entries for the Society of Classical Poets’ 2012 Poetry Competition.

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