Haibun Monday: Killer Heat

Today I am the host/pub tender for dVerse Poets Pub and it is Haibun Monday. The topic for poets to write haibun about is heat: horrible heat, falling in love in the hot summer, getting married, divorced, fired. The haibun can be sad or heavy in tone or light. So come and visit us at dVerse for this Hot Hot Hot Edition. Haibun are not flash fiction or fiction but true accounts.

Killer Heat
Sunday Night: It is midnight and still the temperature is in the high 90’s. When I walk outside, the heat grabs me and sucks the air from my lungs. The air is close and hostile. I go back into the house. No gazing at the stars tonight. It’s too darn hot. In our city, four people have died from the heat. Cooling centers have been opened for those elderly or poor who do not have air conditioning. They can sit in the cool from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm. But then it is back to their hellishly hot homes. Monday at 6:00 am, the temperature is already at 95F. I shower and head to the Feedmore food kitchen to start help putting together breakfast for Meals on Wheels and for various program leaders to pick up for feeding programs for out of school children who will not be getting the meals they normally get during the school year. With the meals for the Meals on Wheels program, two extra bottles of icy water are packed so the elderly or disabled will have some necessary hydration that is cold and refreshing.

By 9:00 am, the meals for all programs have been made, distributed, and cleaned up. Now it is time to begin on lunch. Sweat rolls under my clothes in the hot kitchen. We all wear tee shirts and have bandannas to keep the sweat at bay. But none of us falter. We laugh and complain about the heat and make up jokes or songs to cheer us while we work. It’s so hot, the life span of a popsicle is 10 seconds…it is so hot, trees are looking for shade. Heat Dome the meteorologists say about the heat that covers parts of our nation. On the noon news, another death from heat: a young healthy construction worker. Hunger and heat stretch in front of us like a highway from hell.
heat has no mercy –
it murders the young and old
and does not care.

21 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Victoria C. Slotto
    Jul 25, 2016 @ 15:02:34

    We are forecasted to have temps in the 100’s this week–last week was 90’s. But it is so different here than in Virginia. The humidity is in the teens for the most part, though it’s way up to 20 right now. Stay cool. Stay indoors. And what an effect on the frail elderly! :0(


  2. freyathewriter
    Jul 25, 2016 @ 15:50:03

    I can’t imagine working in kitchens in such fierce heat. I did it once, but it was in the winter, and that was more than enough for me.


  3. Grace
    Jul 25, 2016 @ 18:55:19

    Heat has no mercy indeed. I can’t stand the heat anymore and would rather buy food than be at the kitchen. But I admire you for your services to these folks specially the children and the elderly. We have the same program here too in the city. Thanks for hosting Toni.


  4. Bodhirose
    Jul 25, 2016 @ 20:10:02

    This kind of heat is no laughing matter. No long walks for Mira and I during heat like this…we have to wait until late fall/winter for those again. Bless you for the selfless service that you do for others, Toni.


  5. Victoria Young
    Jul 25, 2016 @ 20:28:49

    You are an absolute hero! Thank you for doing all that you do. Wow, that’s so sad those people have to go back to the heat after being in AC all day – probably making them sick. The humidity on Eastcoast is just awful. Beautiful Haibun!


    • kanzensakura
      Jul 25, 2016 @ 20:59:40

      Thank you Victoria. I am no hero, just an old retired chef. The heroes are the one who deliver the meals and check on the elderly or who work with the kids. They have a program where people deliver box fans but the humidity makes it hard for folk w/o air conditioning or on oxygen. I feel so badly. I try to schedule high protein cool food but with the budget constraints and limited contributions, we do the best we can. Several of us take fresh veggies and tomatoes from our gardens for meal prep or to deliver something fresh. We all try the best we can to help out. If you have a food bank where you live, contribute some or a couple of dollars. It helps so much. And it goes far. Thank you.


  6. jillys2016
    Jul 25, 2016 @ 22:30:33

    The 90’s at midnight – pretty much says it all! This reads so well and the highway from hell is a great bang-up end!


  7. kim881
    Jul 26, 2016 @ 02:26:00

    I just can’t imagine that kind of temperature at midnight. How on earth do you get any sleep? I was up at five this morning because i was too hot but it’s cool downstairs. Love the reference to Highway to Hell – I can hear it in my head as I type! maybe I’ll put it on…


  8. Sumana Roy
    Jul 26, 2016 @ 03:48:47

    almost like the merciless Indian summer…”it is so hot, trees are looking for shade.” their plight is palpable here….


  9. sarahsouthwest
    Jul 26, 2016 @ 07:51:51

    Wow. That sounds outrageously hot. I love the way you accumulate detail so accurately. I feel I’m almost there.


  10. kaykuala (@hankkaykuala)
    Jul 26, 2016 @ 09:25:25

    Heat does not discriminate. But through all of the crisis it is most heartening to see kind souls banding together. Providing relief and the accompanying food are basic to the needs of the needy. Busy tending to all of the homeless and deprived can make one forget of the 95 degrees. Wonderful lines Toni!



  11. lillian
    Jul 26, 2016 @ 10:06:05

    Why am I not surprised that you do volunteer work like this? You are amazing! Not just in your words but in your deeds as well.
    Highway of hell indeed – the vapors of heat can rise up from the concrete — a shower with ice cubes hidden within the washcloth is a trick my mom taught me. Try it — if the ice cubes can stay ice cubes long enough to get from the fridge to the shower!


    • kanzensakura
      Jul 26, 2016 @ 15:29:19

      Your mom and mine must be cousins. She taught me the deal with the ice cubes as well. I love to keep the cloth in a plastic back to this day with a frozen bottle of water to dole out the drops of icy wwater onto the cloth. That was my modification on the cloth and ice cube trick. Lots of folk give their time and energy for this. They are really heroes.


  12. Misky
    Jul 28, 2016 @ 05:20:14

    Dip your hands into ice water (if you can find it); it cools the pulse points quickly. This is the treatment we learned for heat stroke during first aid courses. And the haibun is a treat, too. Fierce and vivid.


    • kanzensakura
      Jul 28, 2016 @ 14:15:39

      LOL, I keep a damp washcloth in the fridge in a plastic bag to periodically wipe my face. After all these years in the hot South, we figure it out. Ice water is a staple in our fridge – actually a gallon container – constantly refilled when it gets to a certain point. Not much ice in the icemaker because it is always being emptied out into water, lemonade, and/or sweet tea.


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