Poetry — March 27, 2016 2:27 — 0 Comments

Apnea – Betty Stanton

I listen to him breathing until he stops
suddenly in a gagging gasp, then silence
that stretches too long before he begins
to breathe again. The doctors say it is
complex – tissue in the back of his throat
collapsing, relaxing when it ought to tighten,
his brain sending the wrong messages to
the muscles that control his breath. He was
tested. Sleeping pills in a strange bedroom,
the slick pads of monitors taped to his skin,
each breath a line in a computer. Afterward,
he slept with a machine, worried when he
would twist and turn that the thick plastic of its
cording would strangle him — until hospice.
Now he snores again, gets caught in the pattern
of his own stuttering breath. Tomorrow he will
be fatigued, have difficulty concentrating, will not
be sure of my name. Beside his bed, I listen for
his choking, his grasping for air — for his last.


Betty Stanton is a writer who lives and works in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She is currently a candidate for an MFA in Creative Writing from The University of Texas at El Paso. Her work has appeared in various journals including Siren, Gravel, Proximity, and Nimrod International Journal of Prose and Poetry and is forthcoming in several other publications.

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What am I?

Bioluminescent eye
That sees by the shine
Of its own light. Lies

Blind me. I am the seventh human sense
And my stepchild,

Scientists can't find me.

Januswise I make us men;
Was my image then—

Remind me:

The awful fall up off all fours
From the forest
To the hours…

Tick, Tock: Divine me.

-- Richard Kenney