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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

John Kelly Guest Poet on Death NYT Style

On July 17 I took the NYT to task. I was severely critical of an article by Robin Marantz Henig "A Real Life-or-Death Situation".  I received a lot of email about my post.  Some felt I was not fair to the Brooke Hopkins and his wife Peggy Battin. This was not my intent. My critique was aimed at the New York Times in general and the the way the article in question framed by Henig. I was not critiquing Hopkins or Battin and the way they coped with SCI. The disabled body, Brooke Hopkins body and by extension disabled bodies, as depicted by Henig was demeaning in the extreme. I fired off a blistering email to Henig and to her credit she replied and apologized for the way the body was described in her article. I accepted her apology.  I do not think she did this on purpose. As the comments following my post noted, many people missed the demeaning description of the disabled body.

A few days ago I received an email from Joh Kelly, a fellow Not Dead Yet board member and director of Second Thoughts.  Kelly is a sharp guy and spear headed the opposition to assisted suicide legislation in MA.  He took creative liberties with Henig's NYT article and wrote the following poem.  Thanks go to John for letting me post this.

A Diaper and Green Crocs: A Right to Die Case Study
Words by Robin Marantz Henig, Arranged by John Kelly

Ensnared in the life-sustaining machinery he hoped to avoid –
a plugged-in mannequin in the I.C.U.
Physically ravaged,
a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the shoulders down.

All that energy went absolutely still at the moment of his collision –
might never again walk, turn over or breathe on his own.
Alot of unsightly phlegm,
day after day, day after day, day after day.

Such a constrained and difficult life –
dependence, indignity and sheer physical travail.
Spasms, pain, catheterizations, bouts of pneumonia, infected abscesses in his groin,
no mind can fly free of a useless body’s incessant neediness.

Progressively more useless bodies –
lives intolerable because of chronic illness, serious injury or extreme old age.
A way to pre-empt old-age catastrophes,

Each body harbors its own form of decay –
Inert sack of a body, impassive as Buddha

Each body harbors its own form of decay –
Inert sack of a body, impassive as Buddha
Pervasive dependency –
a diaper and green Crocs.

An aged couple planning a tandem suicide to make way for the younger generation.
Kill the dogs in a  psych experiment,
death with dignity.


Lynn said...

A brilliant distillation of the dehumanizing imagery. All of those other words were just decoys, really; the ones that pack a punch (and a sucker-punch at that) are all here. Well done, John.

william Peace said...

I was amazed at how he put it together. He is a very sharp guy.