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"Death and Tacos" Nathaniel Whittemore

13.12.09

Waiting in line at a taco stand for my number to be called
I started talking to a six-year-old kid kicking his little foot against
A curb and waiting for his dad to come out of the bathroom.
                And he said, “Why do you cough so much?”
                And I said, “Because I have cancer.”
                And he said, “Bummer.”
                And I said, “Yep.”
                And he said, “Does it hurt?”
                And I said, “Only when I breathe.”
                And he said, “Why don’t you hold your breath?”
And I puffed out my cheeks like Lois Armstrong and
Let him see it and held it for as long as I could
Before exploding into a hacking eruption of
Stupid sounds and saliva.
                And he laughed.
                And I coughed and laughed.
                And he said, “Feel better?”
                And I said, “A bit.”
And I showed him how much better with my
Thumb and index finger. And pointed at a green thread
of mucous that had dribbled out onto my chin
                He said, “Gross.” And wiping it off
                I said, “Yep.”
                And he said, “My granddaddy had cancer before he died on the hospital.”
                And I said, “You mean in the hospital?”
                And he said, “Yeah on the hospital.”
                And I said, “Oh, yeah?”
                And he said, “He used to give me candy all of the times I ever saw him.”
                And I said, “Sorry kid, I don’t have any candy.”
                And, deflated, he said, “Are you gonna die on the hospital?”
                And I said, “You mean in the hospital?”
                And he said, “Yea, are you gonna die on the hospital?”
                And I said, “Probably.”
                And he said, “OK.”
And, upon giving that gracious consent, the boy’s dad came out and
The boy said, “Well, bye!” And I said, “See ya.”
And he ran off.
And, for a while, between the two of us,
Dying became so very ordinary, like candy or tacos or semantics,
And death itself suddenly just this obnoxious third-wheel
A pitiful nuisance with nothing better to do with his time
Than to tag along with me and this six-year-old kid.
And I sat smiling in the sun and imagining death at the moment,
A sad sack of lonely-self slumped somewhere in the distance,
As I waited for my number to come up.

 

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13.12.09

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"Ancient Amazon civilisation laid bare by felled forest"

13.12.09



Signs of what could be a previously unknown ancient civilisation are emerging from beneath the felled trees of the Amazon. Some 260 giant avenues, ditches and enclosures have been spotted from the air in a region straddling Brazil's border with Bolivia.

The traditional view is that before the arrival of the Spanish and Portuguese in the 15th century there were no complex societies in the Amazon basin – in contrast to the Andes further west where the Incas built their cities. Now deforestation, increased air travel and satellite imagery are telling a different story.

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