photo by Alex Lear





exit left


when i came to i didn't know where i was

on the ground, prone, near the levee bottom—i blacked out

while jogging, got up, walked home, still laboring a bit

between deep gulps i told nia as much as i could remember


my brother is a cardiologist, nia urged me to call him

tuesday morning early i take an ekg and the results are so disturbing

keith schedules me for a battery of tests an hour and a half later

i still have a meeting to do in between, my blood pressure was normal


i reappear, am radioactively injected, get wired up and climb on

a treadmill, lay under a nuclear camera, chat as though nothing

was wrong, submit to a sonargram, nia is there the whole time,

the results are negative, acceptable, i did not have a heart attack


keith can not determine the etiology of the alarming ekg

but i know the hard truth: at fifty i am almost through

i am dying and perhaps there is a metaphysical reason

no physical break down showed up on the machines this time


as the world unravels around me i coolly center the resulting chaos

within the calm of my karma's core—this is how i exist: i dare to do

all the good i can, i accept the uneveness of chance, i simply love

life for what it is and when my time comes, i am not afraid to exit


—kalamu ya salaam


Music—"Monk's Mood" by Thelonious Monk


Kalamu ya Salaam – vocals

Stephan Richter – clarinet

Frank Bruckner – guitar

Georg Janker - bass



Recorded: June 14, 1998 – "ETA Theatre" Munich, Germany