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Callaloo 23.1 (2000) 77-78

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Heartbeats *

Melvin Dixon

Part 1: In the Family

Work out. Ten laps.
Chin ups. Look good.
Steam room. Dress warm.
Call home. Fresh air.
Eat right. Rest well.
Sweetheart. Safe sex.
Sore throat. Long flu.
Hard nodes. Beware.
Test blood. Count cells.
Reds thin. Whites low.
Dress warm. Eat well.
Short breath. Fatigue.
Night sweats. Dry cough.
Loose stools. Weight loss.
Get mad. Fight back.
Call home. Rest well.
Don't cry. Take charge.
No sex. Eat right.
Call home. Talk slow.
Chin up. No air.
Arms wide. Nodes hard.
Cough dry. Hold on.
Mouth wide. Drink this.
Breathe in. Breathe out. [End Page 77]
No air. Breathe in.
Breathe in. No air.
Black out. White rooms.
Head out. Feet cold.
No work. Eat right.
CAT scan. Chin up.
Breathe in. Breathe out.
No air. No air.
Thin blood. Sore lungs.
Mouth dry. Mind gone.
Six months? Three weeks?
Can't eat. No air.
Today? Tonight?
It waits. For me.
Sweet heart. Don't stop.
Breathe in. Breathe out.

Melvin Dixon (1950-1992) was a professor of English at Queens College in New York. His numerous publications include Love's Instruments (poems) and Vanishing Rooms (novel). He died of complications of AIDS-HIV in 1992.

* from Love's Instruments (Tia Chucha Press, 1995). Reprinted by permission of Faith Childs Literary Agency.



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