Ray Whitaker – Quietude

Whitaker LE P&W 4 Nov-Dec 2023

Download PDF Here
14th Anniversary Edition, Live Encounters Poetry & Writing Volume Four Nov-Dec 2023.

Quietude, peoms by Ray Whitaker.

Quietude [sonnet two]

Not like there was silence anyway
I heard my Mother’s compassionate voice
insisting that the only option was listening to an aged wisdom
her coaching about being nearly seventy.

Not like there wern’t other voices in the recesses, my own too
I heard my Father’s voice speaking
over a flight line’s roar of air power, taking off
and landing on talking about the courage

to face what may come despite what may have occurred.
Memories bespoke the bravery
having followed a plan
of determination

of design of a full life contributing
and following the course, still, all the while, aging.

Homo Naledi

Homo naledi is an extinct hominin species discovered in 2013
in the Rising Star Cave system, Gauteng province, South Africa.

Twenty feet into the cave
hearing a very soft rustling
then louder, and a flight of bats
making us duck down as they made their way out.
Crouched down, shielding eyes from
the flying bats, thousands of them it seemed
our arms over heads, all
no one got up until they’d passed.
Blink your eyes now, keeping them closed
think of yesterday
or perhaps the day before
then think back even further
past your imaginable past
of a short life
measured in tens of decades
to the in-human, maybe the un-human, yet

of our genus,
a sort-of our species,
with all of our humanly traits
in our human family tree
we speak sometimes in whispers
about all our abilities in this modern age
shaking heads over the evolutions
of thinking towards Being Human.

There is a dawn’s rise
into the cradle of thought
an emotional discovery in fingertips
touching the body that belonged to
those we loved
after this, what was, has gone cold
warmth of corporeal, depth of emotions
has gone to an undiscovered afterlife.

We bury our loved ones
in so many varied mortuary rituals
honoring the dead,
giving grief a presence for those left behind

thinking, surprised
when there is a discovery
that a quarter million years ago

a far distant hominoid relative, Homo Naledi
did the same thing then, that we do today.

Underneath the arrogance of our ways
to believe we moderns are the only Humans
to love and cherish those that have come before.

What I’m not saying

written from the health-care perspective 
of a 34 year career as a Respiratory Therapist in the USA

All the people I have had the privilege of
to be present in their dying
are a part of me.
I don’t remember all their names.
What I do remember is that
some were in the winter of their lives
some were in their summer
only a few were in the spring of Life.

I also remember the clear absence of color
of the endotracheal tubes
those had a blue strip down the side
with a gradient so we Respiratory Therapists would know
how deep it was in past the vocal cords.
And the black fancy ambu bag
that we sophisticated Respiratory Therapists
could attach therapeutic devices to,
and give breath
for someone who could not anymore.

Even being an Expert at resuscitation
we only kept about thirty percent
of ‘em
on the planet.

Walking away
from a Code blue
I wanted sunshine,
or trees,
or wind
sometimes in the fall,
outside the big teaching hospital
I could get all three.

I stopped counting
all the Humans stopping their Being
after about three years of this.
In the hospital room
and assisted the Registered Nurses
in cleaning up the “after” detritus,
yes, we medical people can be messy.

I have few regrets after all those years
when someone left, said goodby to Life,
having stopped circling the toilet in small tight orbits
Codes would sometimes last almost and hour…

Having learned to get dog-love
upon arriving home from my day
this was welcomed, enjoyed
nourishin’ for me in a way
I didn’t have to imagine
my buddy had no idea
that my day
had been someone’s last.

And right after there was more to do.

© Ray Whitaker

“Ray has been writing both prose and poetry since he was seventeen. He has three books published from  NEWNESS TWONESS BOOKS: “ACKNOWLEDGMENT: Poems From The ‘Nam,” a two volume set [2019, 2nd Editions available on Amazon]; and “23, 18,” [2020, 2nd Edition, available on Amazon, and “For The Lost and Loved.” [2021, available on Amazon]. A chapbook, THE SCUPPERNONG WORKS”  was published last fall, also by Newness Twoness. His fifth poetry book now at publishers for consideration, THE TAVERN ON OLD LOG CABIN ROAD.  He is working on another chapbook and full legnth poetry book.

Ray has done readings around the state of North Carolina, now in Colorado as well, and has been a member of both the North Carolina Poetry Society, and The North Carolina Writer’s Network. He has thrice been a ‘Writer-in-Residence” at the North Carolina Center For The Arts and Humanities at Weymouth, in Southern Pines, NC. He is the father of two daughters, and lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Active in the poetry scene in Colorado, and is available for readings state-wide. Ray, an American poet, has participated in the International Poetry scene as well, published by literary journals in Bali, India, Belgium, Pakistan, United Kingdom, Greece, Ireland, and the United States.”

One Reply to “Ray Whitaker – Quietude”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.