Karim Khan (writing under the pen name Ernest Dempsey) has appeared on Riehlife before for a three-day spread when we discussed his book of brilliantly warped short-shorts called “The Biting Age.” Now he has a new book of poetry out titled “Islands of Illusion” and one of his poems is even being considered for nomination for the Pushcart Prize. Ernest is President of World Audience, a publishing consortium. The poem below was just written in response to news of a friend’s son diagnosed with cancer. Ernest speaks for himself and the poem “Towards the Light” below.—JGR
This morning I received the news of little Ethan having cancer. Ethan’s mom, Esther Lombardi is a friend of mine, living in New Mexico. A graduate in English Literature, Esther is an editor of classic literature at www.about.com. She is the person who wrote an introduction to my poetry book Islands of Illusion.
I had regular correspondence with her until a few months back when she suddenly vanished from the online world. Thinking she might be busy or traveling abroad somewhere, I didn’t think much about her absence. But then it occurred to me if everything is all right with her. I sent her a couple of e-mails that were not answered. I tried to call her at her number I got from her resume and the phone message told me the number was no longer in use.
I again tried to connect with her via e-mail and this morning I received her short reply: ‘Ethan has cancer. We have been moving in and out of hospitals.’ I was shocked and could not help feeling heavy-hearted throughout the day. At night, when the power failed out for some time in our hostel, I wrote a peom in my room in candlelight. As I wrote this poem at night in my hostel room, I felt like crying for the child. I don’t know how he is doing and whether or not he has hope for life but I strongly wish that he comes out safe and sound. Please join me in wishing him well!
Towards the Light
Power failure in this lonely night
I grope for my cell phone in the dark
Reaching for the candle in its dim battery light
The noise in the side room continues
Guys, afraid of living alone, chat together
I light the candle
My heart still reaching out to young Ethan
A child of under two, fighting cancer
Struggling for his so very tender life
He has his mother to stay by his side
The woman he belongs to
There may be many friends of their family
Each offering some degree of support
Least helpful, though most honest, are my wishes
Silently connecting me to Ethan
From inside of my room with a dying candle
A candle that is all my hope this moment