"What's the world for you if you can't make it up the way you want."

-Jazz, Toni Morrison


The End of Ed

The End of Ed

 

 

    My brother Ed is committing suicide. Right now. In front of his wife and his daughter and his grandchildren. I’m not there. I live on the other side of the planet, but I read reports in real time via Messenger. Shamelessly, my brother is killing himself. Slowly. Smoking. Starving. Wasting away not from the lung cancer the surgery cut out five years ago. Not from the excision of throat cancer I watched him wake from eleven months ago. The cancer isn’t threatening his body at the moment. Although of course the cigarettes are. But his mind has never recovered from the terror and the losses of time, career, confidence, voice, and independence. He does not eat food, and even as he turns away from those who love him, he invites pneumonia to visit again and again to enfeeble and consume.  When my brother and I sat with our parents on their last days, he whispered them assurance it was alright for them to give up the fight and their ghosts to seize the rest of eternity. It seemed the loving thing to do. Then. Them. But now I doubt, and I will not book the flight to see him off.


A native New Yorker, James Penha has lived for the past quarter-century in Indonesia. Nominated for Pushcart Prizes in fiction and poetry, his LGBTQ stories appear in the 2017 and 2018 anthologies of both the Saints & Sinners Literary Festival and the Seattle Erotic Arts Festival and in the 2018 Lambda Literary Award winning anthology His Seed. His dystopian poem “2020” is part of the 2017 Not My President collection. His essay "It's Been a Long Time Coming" was featured in The New York Times "Modern Love" column in April 2016. Penha edits TheNewVerse.News, an online journal of current-events poetry. Twitter: @JamesPenha

Cover photo by Elijah O'Donell on Unsplash

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