N a p a l m H e a l t h S p a : R e p o r t 2 0 1 3 : S p e c i a l E d i t i o n
L o n g P o e m M a s t e r p i e c e s o f t h e P o s t b e a t s
Chilling Winter Stroll
my steel electric chair
down the snow sidewalk
fiancée Anne Marie laid it on me.
me to be honest... right?”
“I kissed my old boyfriend”
She lit up a cigarette
hat and mitten combo I bought her
from the nearby tree.
Island Bound on Old Route One
thought of the giant squid picture
I pulled up on the Internet
a few days earlier –
the only giant squid ever to have washed upon the Americans shores –
just 100 yards from new apartment
raw salty Atlantic
and the Sun beat down.
When I entered that wave, a hostile current or undertow kicked my legs above my head
and hurled me.
The back of my head gently brushed SOMETHING, and I rolled amongst the white water
and sand tornadoes. Something cracked, a delicate eggshell –– and seconds later
splintering lightning force
one million sensations through every single nerve ending –– buzzing fingers –– buzzing
toes –– every visceral sensation –– pain, pleasure, tingling, burning, itching, light touch,
heat, cold, goose bumps.
One second later –– nothing –– I couldn't feel or move any part of my body. Complete
tranquility and then numbness.
TV being turned off on a dark, cold night
a ship's captain looking for a place to land on shore during a storm having a lighthouse
darkened and being engulfed by an angry blood hungry monstrous ocean demon. The
grim reaper swiped me with his sickle. Was I electrocuted? Was I stunned by a puffer
fish? deadly quiet-
A voice was shouting, there was the swishing and slashing of people. I sensed the
strength of the man trying to pull me to shore.
He was yelling,”I need help! I need help!” As he got pushed by the undertow more and
more hands came around from somewhere, hands and voices and faces and arms and legs
–– all struggling. They battled with the force of the rising tide, the crashing swells and the
dead weight of my body as it flipped over and over.
Soon as my head was out of water I began to scream “Get me out of the water!”, people
crowded and swarmed around as I was laid on the hot sand. And the sun beat down.
The crowd around me a growing, spinning nest of faces, blurry then clear. A police
officer? Lifeguards all moving but I could only feel the grains of sand in my hair, the
burning flames of the Sun and blood rushes. The lifeguards reacted quickly, I was
strapped to a wooden plank, and large, steel metal scissors sliced my wooden beaded
necklace–– they seem to rain down in slow motion, one by one –– hitting –– scattering ––
crawling into the sand. A neck brace soon replaced my wooden beads.
A blond female lifeguard, whispering gently. My lungs were shrinking and soon my
vision became bottle glass... all I could focus on was my breath. Where was Anne
I heard my name being screamed and shrieked in a high pitched voice “CHAZ!?!”—and
from the corner of my eye I saw Anne-Marie being held back by a blue uniformed man.
Blood pressure cuffs –– needles –– transmitter radios –– the bright fluorescent orange
lifeguard suits –– heat –– a cyclone of ghostly haze –– is this real? was there poison in
my Poland Spring bottle? was my cigarette laced?
The lifeguards were working all around me as the sun's rays burned, minutes past with no
stimulus from my body. An ATV arrived with an empty trailer.
Several patrol cars had arrived, flashing eyes penetrating, blue and red lights, possibly
trying to control the congregation of cold, blank, sullen, sunken eyes, wide-eyed stares
and whispering voices converging all around.
Halogen white lights
the coolness of a stainless steel table on the back of my head.
I was naked now and surrounded by people in white coats moving feverishly around.
Blackness followed by the sounds of a sneaker tumbling in a dryer. A coffin? A MRI?
the unbearable pain in my neck area keeping me in and out of consciousness.
A crown of thorns? Who am I? Not Jesus.
A warming light surrounded me as I strained to open my eyes which felt glued shut.
rolled my eyeballs around to see my brother C.J, my mother, my father, Anne and a few
I didn't realize it, but the metal ring surrounding my head was attached to my skull with
four bolts –– each individually seeping small rivulets of blood.
the metal ring they called The Halo was attached to weights
to help decompress my spine –– I had been placed in a medical device they called traction.
I was unaware of this. All I know is that I felt like I was only two eyes looking out of a
I was not told that a few hours earlier they had been sanctioned into a special room, a special room that no family or friend ever wants to visit, in cold medical terms, that I was
now “a quadriplegic”. The vertebrae in my neck had been fractured and had impinged
and bruised my spinal cord and that if I could survive the next few days that there was
little chance that I would be independent or ever walk again.
I later learned there were up to 12 different plastic tubes simultaneously inside me,
keeping me alive.
Surgery came and went, doctors came and went, therapist came and went, visitors came
and went, days came and went. Sanity came and went
As the days passed by I continued to lose weight shedding over 35 pounds of muscle, and
the pneumonia worsened –– no longer did I think about the fact that I could not move or
feel most my body –– I began living breath to breath, moment to moment and trying to
deal with the nightmares.
Nazi nurse was a not a Nazi at all, but rather
a hardheaded, strict angel trying to keep me sane and alive.
Nazi nurse was trying to keep me alive, moment to moment –
Anne and my father spent endless
hours scouring the Internet--searching for places that specialized in catastrophic care and
battling with my health insurance company.
Their number-one mission was to get me off the ventilator -- and they found a
catastrophic care hospital outside of Denver that was world renowned for helping people
wean off of ventilators.
BEFORE THE SILVER BULLET LEARJET blazed down the runway, Nazi nurse gave
me some more anti-anxiety medication (which I desperately needed) through my IV,
escorted me into the fuselage, held my hand firmly and gave me a kiss on the cheek. She
had kept her self emotionally separated until this point, but it was hard for her to keep her
feelings to herself. She looked into my eyes.
never really asleep or completely awake during or after the flight --a frozen state of
consciousness. My blood cells were carrying large amounts of morphine, Valium and all
sorts of other chemicals. Hearing and seeing green lights flicker –– angled light –– the
beeping continued from the various machines that were surrounding me –– looking up all
I saw were pale gray ceiling tiles ––
I was in what appeared to be large hospital room with jaundice yellow painted walls,
shiny institutional linoleum tiles, and covered on one side with 10 foot high flowered
curtain -a blank sort of foggy whiteness came out of the window to my left. The beeping
continued and voices came in and out, bending and twisting like they were in a hollow
cave or cavern.
Anne Marie was the only thing that had familiarity. She was by my side, but was weary,
exhausted looking. –– Dark, blood red circles around her eyes; her face was the same
color as the painted walls-- how long had she been awake? Looking down, I noticed she
was holding my hand. A hand, I couldn't feel completely –– a pulsating heart beat which
The following two weeks a fast ride of white coats and blue gloved wearing attendants. I
was introduced to them as Nurses and Nurses aids and respiratory therapists and doctors.
I was living intravenously.
everything my body required to live -- through tubes I did not understand. Cosmic green
hallucinations –– ghost-like figures seem to run my body like it was a business speaking
in strange terms –– 100 cc of this, two cracks of that, oxygen level down –– those were
the most normal words. Everything else seemed a foreign language.
voices in my head were much louder than any voices outside.
Anne Marie's voice with normal words.
REHABILITATION CENTER –– more like a jailed asteroid or sterile netherworld.
Pain of all sorts –– kept me awake –supersensitive catatonic alertness. The consciousness
of a month-long sleep deprived schizophrenic –– shaking and jerking and spasming –– and knew I was alive.
[Used by permission of the author.]
C.C. Southers lives in Boston, Massachusetts and works tirelessly to help his brothers and sisters “of the chair.”