Thomas: the Last Days
John Thomas & Philomene Long
John appears shaken. He tells Philomene that for 2
hours in the morning he had shortness of breath and that "It was
like "being on the top of Mt. Everest without an oxygen tank."
He says this three times. Philomene asks for details. He repeats two more
times: "It was like being on top of Mt. Everest without an oxygen
An assistant comes with another wheel chair because
there are no foot rests on the one John is sitting on. John grabs hold
of the threshold to the door, his arms and hands tremble with the strength
it takes to raise himself up as the assistant substitutes the chair. He
stands for a few moments -holding with all his strength then collapses
into the new one. He is so weak he asks for the attendant to "lob"
his feet onto the foot rests.
John: My heart felt weaker this morning but I think it
will get stronger.
Philomene tries to remain calm, but a thick tear runs
down her left cheek.
John: No! Please don't! You know how it pains me to see
you in pain.
John's eyes become an intense dark brown, focused
with great power on Philomene's as if knowing these might be his last
words to her.
John: "THEY"- S&G (Sodom & Gomorrah)
did not touch it.
Our love, our connection-- nothing can touch it.
I have written my anniversary poem to you.
It comes from a dream I had of Heaven:
"There is a Heaven coexisting alongside us,
and that you and I
can step into it
in many strange ways--
through pigeons, seeds,
the final hand clap,
through abandoned garbage,
by an out-of-business coffee shop
in Death Valley."
Our love, Philomene--
If I die, it can't touch it.
If you die, it can't touch it.
If we both die, it can't touch it.
NOTHING can touch it.
They sit in silence. Philomene whispers to herself:
"He's dying. He's dying."
John: My Only One. My Only One.
Philomene: My Only One. My Only One.
Philomene leaves, walking down the hall alone saying
aloud: "He's dying. He's dying. He's dying. He's dying. Love, Love,
how will I bear it?"
PIETA IN A LOS ANGELES MORTUARY
April 5, 2002
"Now, like the gods, he is invulnerable.
Nothing on earth can hurt him."-- Borges
John Thomas: stretched upon a gurney
A thin plate of steel; thin steel legs supporting him
At times his enormous body appears suspended in air
It seems to me as if he lies upon a make-shift altar
He had said to me: "This is happening because
of our love"
And again, in my mind's ear, I hear the mocking; the laughter
"Look! He does not even know how to work his wheel chair!"
"Look at his belly! Is HE pregnant?!"
Again I hear him say: "Forgive them. Forgive them all."
Before his pale corpse I cry aloud:
"THEY CRUCIFIED YOU!"
Then place my hand upon his chest, whisper:
"I'm here, Love. I'm here.
You died. You died on Good Friday
At 3:00 in the afternoon; the very hour 19 years ago
When we made love for the first time
I have written our anniversary poem
And in it I say the: 'Risen John Thomas!'
The last words of the poem are: 'Immense' and 'Golden.' "
"And, Love, because that Easter 19 years ago
When I asked how you were, and you said 'Resurrected!'
I have found you a tomb (It is OUR tomb)
In the Mausoleum of the Resurrection
At Holy Cross Cemetery
For there are many resurrections
And this is OUR resurrection"
As I say these words from his body
A soft golden light rising
Finally, encompassing me
It is both passion and oblivion
As the world falls away
The room becomes
A mirror of suns
As if exploding
Eye of God
YouTube film of the last
reading given by John and Philomene
John Thomas - 5 Years Gone
Beat-era Venice poet John Thomas died 5 years ago on
April 5, 2002, at 3 p.m. (It was Good Friday, which falls on the 6th this
year.) On February 17, Sponto Gallery hosted a tribute to John. Philomene
had this to say:
"My thought for this evening is -- conjoined with the "spontanicity"
(Keroauc's term) of the evening -- that there are not so much readers
and an audience -- but all giving tribute to John -- the "Dead Poets'
Society" with "LivingPoets' Society" in the present --
each giving a word, a phrase, a sentence which completes "John Thomas
is...." from which we will create the Zen accident -- poetry of spontanicity
to honor him -- so there will be musicians creating music -- painters
creating paintings - and there will be the act of creating a living poem
to honor John Thomas."
Note: This came in the mail, a suggestion that another perspective on
John Thomas be offered here. This L.A.
Weekly article and the follow-up
article are well worth reading.