Delayed Begging: Gary Fowler

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Delayed Begging: Gary Fowler[1]

“That thang sure is ugly,” Cheryl said,
so you know it was only the love that made
them compromise to put the blue swivel
recliner in their bedroom. 

Twenty-four years of marriage, and Gary never
slept away from their bed, but that’s where their
son found him. Upright and uptight and cold dead
in the chair because his heartbeat wasn’t regular. 

Gary’s oxygen level was too low.

“Daddy won’t wake up!” is what their son screamed
over and over again, but not loud enough because
Gov. Dan Patrick said “There are more important things
than living and that’s saving this country for my children and grandchildren
and saving this country for all of us.”[2]

Gary’s son tried to save his black father three times. Isn’t that important too?

First
Beaumont Hospital
I would like to get a test
Fever 101
Cough
Shortness of breath
They told him sorry. We don’t have no tests.
Just “Go home and act like you have the virus.”

Second
Detroit Receiving Hospital
I would like to get a test
High fever
Shortness of breath
They told him sorry. We don’t have no tests.
Just “Go home and act like you have the virus.”

Third
Henry Ford Hospital
My chest hurts
I can’t breathe
I have a fever that has not broke
There is nothing wrong, they said.
Just “Go home and act like you have the virus.”

Go home and act like what happened to your ancestors isn’t related to what’s happening to you.
Go home and act like you don’t live in a segregated neighborhood.
Go home and act like you are able to get a job.
Go home and act like you have health care.
Go home and act like you have sick leave.
Go home and act like you had an equitable education.
Go home and act like you don’t live in a food desert.
Go home and act like you got money for meds.
Go home and act like you have clean drinking water.
Go home and act like you have childcare.
Go home and act like you can pay your rent.
Go home and act like you are not hungry.
Go home and act like you can get a home loan.
Go home and act like you get equal pay for your work.
Go home and act like your black child won’t get shot.
Go home and act like you have access to affordable housing.
Go home and act like the police won’t choke you out.
Go home and act like you don’t fear being put in jail.
Go home and act like a system don’t make money from your exploitation, pain and suffering.
Go home and act like you served your country, and they didn’t say fuck you.
Go home and act like the president has a plan.
Go home and act like you are not more likely to die because of the color of your skin.
Go home and act like you are a citizen of this country.
Go home and act like people would do something if they only knew.
Go home and act like you can vote.
Go home and act like you are free,
but come back
if you can make it here
before you die like
you have the virus.

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  • Taiyon J. Coleman

    Taiyon J. Coleman is a poet, essayist, and educator. She is Associate Professor of English and Women’s Studies at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota. Her poetry and essays have appeared in numerous collections and magazines.

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