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Tuesday, 17 April 2012

An Actuality


Dance of Death: Michael Wolgemut, 1493

It was growing dark and a fine light rain had begun to fall as he stepped out from the blind corner into the crosswalk when the dark car came up from nowhere behind him, whipping round the corner to strike him the sudden glancing blow that swept his legs out from under him as if they had been no more than weak brittle bits of wood and flipped him through the air from which he soon fell and when next he knew he was lying immobile on his back feeling the small rain drops on his skin as the paramedics cut away his clothes just before the blood spurting from the side of his head which had abruptly contacted the rutted pavement as he fell began to fill up his eyes, and his shocked eyes could see no more while the cool touch of the rain upon his now exposed body became the last sensation he would actually remember. For a while.


manik sharma said...

Good to have you back..Hope you are recovering well..Wish you well

ACravan said...

Checking on you every morning here, nothing could make me happier than seeing this. It's been an eventful time since your accident, feeling and reflecting on your trauma being one of the main events. Welcome back from Caroline, Jane, me and many cats, dogs, birds and fish. You must be so pleased to be back at work and Angelica must be so relieved. And speaking as a lawyer, I hope you're taking steps to address the behavior of the Freeway Feeder Felon (if she's not considered a felon in California, she should be) driver who ran you down. Holding her accountable for her actions is also part of the so-called social safety net. Curtis

TC said...

Manik, what a dear person you are to remind me that friendship exists in the universe!

To you and to the other kind souls whose visits to this blog have provided the encouragement and inspiration that's been essential to keeping it going over the years, apologies for the recent silence here.

Last month there was posting here concerning the automotive culture under whose hegemony we all, like it or not, must live and/or die. Perhaps the malevolent speedway fates were a bit irked.

Two weeks ago, while crossing with a green light in a pedestrian crosswalk at an intersection a half block from my home, I was run over by a driver turning at speed off the major thoroughfare out front, and suffered serious injuries. The thoroughfare in question is a freeway feeder, and on it, drivers seem to assume freeway manners (or is that an oxymoron?), while pedestrians must go in fear, at the risk of being maimed or killed. There have been numerous fatalities in the immediate vicinity resulting from car-to-human collisions. (Our longtime next door neighbour was killed crossing in a pedestrian walkway just in front of the house.) In my case the city Fatal Accident Investigation Team was summoned, and I was rushed to the East Bay Trauma Center at Highland Hospital. In the triage unit there I had emergency head surgery, followed by a long, long night night of many scans and procedures.

In January Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney assured the American public that, "I'm not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there."

It would be good for the state of the Perishing republic if someone were to take Mr Romney -- to whom words like "poor" and "concern" obviously signify quite differently than they do to those to whom he would so blithely dare refer -- by the hand and walk him through the vale of woes and lamentation which he would have the insouciance and audacity to call a "safety net".

Coincidentally a very interesting feature-length documentary about Highland Hospital is due for imminent release.

This two minute clip offers a shudder of recognition, for those who have been there -- and possibly also a quick shot of useful information, for those who should thank their stars that they have not.

"Highland Hospital, located in East Oakland at 31st Street and 14thAvenue, is a county-run, public hospital that serves as the major trauma center for the greater Oakland area, as well as providing the bulk of non-emergency medical care to uninsured patients in Alameda County. The hospital is the source of primary care for some 250,000 patients. Almost every adult in the area who suffers a traumatic injury is transported to Highland Hospital, whether or not they are insured. The emergency room sees about 80,000 visits annually. Doctors and nurses juggle 236 beds—balancing limited resources in a delicate triage system to provide care to a community desperately in need. The tension between trauma and acute care builds in the waiting room at Highland Hospital, resulting in long, frustrating periods—sometimes as long as twelve hours—spent waiting for basic medical attention."

To speak of a generally afflicting social issue in propria persona risks stressing the personal unduly, but the medical remains ongoing, trying, uncertain, tiresome and the outcome uncertain -- as might be said, for that matter, of the big everything.

But while we're here for the moment... er, on with the show.

TC said...

long, long night night

"Going out to get the Times."

"Going out to get the Times."

Conrad DiDiodato said...

Welcome back, Tom

It's nice to see TOM CLARK at the top of my daily sites to read

TC said...

Curtis and Conrad, many thanks, great to hear from you both.

Nin Andrews said...

I am so relieved to see you here Tom. We have all missed you. I can not imagine the pain--and the healing road ahead. I do hope you can rest and rest and rest.

Hit by a car once on a bike, and with a helmet on, I have only a distant inkling of this horrible event.

I am reduced to my version of prayer. Not sure it works, but . . .

But what a wonder to see you here again! Please be well!

vazambam (Vassilis Zambaras) said...

All I can say--apart from seconding all these best wishes sent your way by dear friends--is "It's about time"!

TC said...

Sweet to hear your voice, Nin.

Well, I wish I had been wearing a helmet!

I am put to shame in this moment to recall that for these many decades there has been a blind man who navigates that same corner in order to get to and from the places one must go. His bravery always silences my own self-woes. But he certainly does wear a helmet at all times. Among other protective armour. And the long white stick.

Ah yes, rest. I'm very Yikes! and Yegads! (i.e. cowardly) about the saving of one's life through medical intervention, even at the so-called "best of times" -- so all this worrisome present display of prospective entry into further adventures in powerlessness is what, to put a nice name on it, might be called new country for me.

Once able to fiddle with notebook and keyboard these past few nights I have diverted myself by taking consolation in a poem I have long loved, and, as it seemed in some curious accidental way to fit the moment, have now translated it and posted it here.

Lally said...

Tom, I hope you didn't mind that I posted about what happened and many sent regards and well wishes, through comments, email and in person. It's great to see/hear your voice again here as illuminating and insightful as ever. Much thanks to any and all who helped you, especially A. said...

Tom, I'm totally delighted to see you "back"
all best wishes

TC said...


"It's about time" prompts me to muse aloud here, before the cracked dawn, that the ambulance trip to the faraway hospital, with side of head being held on by emergency responders, had seemed to go by "in no time".

And the poor woman who after all these never easy years certainly deserves of life something better than the privilege of having been allowed (due to lack of other transport) to ride in the front of the ambulance on such a trip, to recall that the vehicle was going very fast, through the night.

Saving my life.

She reports that as the vehicle careened on this noble mission through the night streets of deep Oakland, the woman driver of the response team had suddenly cried out.

"'Look at that! A raccoon!"

The raccoon, says Angelica, was fleeing the screeching vehicle by diving into a storm drain.

Marcia said...


Wonderful to see your post this morning. Welcome back. I hope your recovery is going well. I remember the dangerous intersection well - and the crossing in front of your house where cars have no regard for anything but speed and their own interests.

How perfect for your return to all of us today - your lovely translation of the Brecht poem. Take care. Marcia

TC said...

Michael, Simon, Marcia, such lovely company. We're both very grateful for friends like you.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...


I'm smiling here, all the way out in Pittsburgh, yet I know that you are still going through so much. So, your kindness to us all is very much appreciated and, even more so, making sure you take care of yourself in the coming days, weeks, and months would of course better still.

The Brecht is stunning in its quiet power.


TC said...

Thanks, Don. Our belwether!

Blogger has been going crazy with hacking and virology and memory loss and every other sort of problem this morning (my sympathies!), but it turns out perhaps some things can still be counted on.



Ah so good to see you're back -- I was just thinking about you in the minute before I clicked the screen, thinking to write to say we were thinking of you and hoping you were 'on the road' back to recovery, and here you are. Those elderberry trees, the branches and berries and Brecht's poem (think for some time whether he will go inside to get his glasses, to see them better, your account of being struck, "sudden glancing blow . . . the small rain drops on his skin as the paramedics cut away his clothes" --- THANK YOU FOR THIS. Johnny and I send our love.


grey whiteness of fog against invisible
ridge, song sparrow calling from branch
in foreground, sound of wave in channel

other present, passage when
time moves through it

as something, the beginning
of friendship, and so

silver line of sun reflected in channel,
white cloud in pale blue sky on horizon

TC said...


Out of commission here but not out of mind's eye, those beautiful photos you've sent -- cloud/ridge and Buddha's Birthday.

Temporality, a serenity.

Love from us both to you and of course Johnny,

time moves through it

as something, the beginning
of friendship

Anonymous said...

I will join the chorus of friends welcoming you back and celebrating your unmatched resilience, Tom. You have been missed. I recall you writing, either here or in an email (I forget which), about this very freeway feeder situation near your house, the constant menace it posed, and how it had taken down one of your neighbors. So awful, not least because it could be so avoidable. Alas . . . May you continue to build strength and mend. We the living are not yet ready to figure out a way forward without you.

TC said...


We the memory-bereft, soft-tissue challenged, perhaps not so prematurely fossilized who are currently about to embark on the parlous seas of an ultrasound diagnostic adventure gratefully salute you.

Annie said...

Learning this morning of your injury and the whole traumatic experience produced a wild oscillation from stunned horror to relief and back to concern. I am amazed and thankful that you are back in your inimitable form. And your astute shotgunner's reportage of the raccoon tale once again inspires my humble admiration—such equanimity surely must restore us all from this wobble in our orbit. All love and healing to you both,

Ed Baker said...

the only thing worse
than that Little Old Lady
driving the car that hit you

would have been
that if that Dawg that attacked you
some time back

had been driving the car !

hang in.

TC said...


Many thanks, and you're right about the shotgunner.

Every little bit of attention to the world as it is seems to help stabilize the wobble.


You old super-sleuth, how did you find out -- IT WAS!

(Actually, I have been unable so far to ascertain her identity.)

Nora said...

I'm so sorry to hear about this, Tom. Glad you're still with us, and hopefully on the mend.

Elmo St. Rose said...

the bad news is it still hurts,
the good news is you are now
more of a 1st degree relative
of Frank O'Hara....
the knee bone is connected to
the thigh bone...the thigh bone
is connected to the hip bone, the
hip bone is connected to the back
bone...the back bone is connected
to the poetry bone now rising
and shining

TC said...


Wonderful to hear from you, brightening the dark before the dawn.


Always reassuring to have the poetry doctor in the house (said he, on the uneasy runway to the Vascular Imaging Lab).

gamefaced said...

whew tom. what a relief you're still with us.

that hospital must be one of the many locales hell occupies on earth.

TC said...


I am happy too, to be here with you.

About that hospital, you've got your infernal geography about right.

More human suffering than ought ever to be jammed into a single space.

Anonymous said...

You're back!!! Tom! And, so well loved; I among those whose life would be lessened, changed, by your absence here at blog central.

I am joyeous that you are ok. I recently took a spill on a tennis court of all things, after long long absence and going at breakneck speed. Lucky. My partner said I looked like Boris Becker, in horizontal mode and up until the last moment seemed I was going to get that ball after all.

I'm sad that you were struck by a car, Tom. Serious stuff. More so than asphalt tennis court and racket akimbo. in joy, Donna

TC said...

Thanks Donna. It's a good thing your partner can't see my head. It looks like a large red strawberry mashed at 120 mph by a Boris Becker forehand. Or as the doctor charmingly put it -- "something out of a horror movie".