A Virtual Cry For Help by Howard Richard Debs

When I was a younger man

I had a near death experience

by which I mean I nearly died

by the hand of another but

was saved by someone who

then was a brother-in-arms

now a hater, meaning he

loathes me, but yet he saved me

at the time and so since that

time I have been careful to

return the favor meaning

that I take the time to help

my fellow human beings

whenever I can and I came

upon such an occasion an

hour ago in cyberspace.

Just poking through my

Facebook feed I stumbled

upon a post shrieking a

call for help, seeming in despair,

threatening to take her life.

Fortunately I have a

therapist for a daughter

who I turned to in a panic

what could be done I asked

and she answered, calm

and collected and fully

prepared; report this person

needs help. My God, Facebook

is prepared as well, changing my opinion

of this behemoth of social media forever.

Cautioning that this all might

be a prank or just

some poor attention seeking soul,

she gave me words to use

in a comment which I rushed

to post as well, and read that

someone else had written

“forget it folks….she isnt goin

to do dat…bet”

and “go to hell.”

At approximately 2:30pm EST Friday October 2nd, I was sitting in my usual booth at Barbie’s Diner in Lake Park Florida finishing a late lunch, waiting for a call that my car had a new set of brakes, and scrolling through my Facebook News Feed, I stared in disbelief at the post I came upon from the Existentialism Group to which I belong, having been a philosophy major back in the day I try to keep up with such things. A young woman – her profile photo at least suggested that – was talking about “helium suicide.” I still have no idea how one uses helium in accomplishing the intended deed, but the suicide part was clear to me. I know someone who blew their brains out when they were told they had cancer. I am shaking as I write this. I had to do something, and I did the best I could, and I received a reply from her to my response to her which indicates perhaps the crisis is averted. But what plagues me to this moment in time are the comments of others, some irrelevant, ignoring the 500 pound elephant in the room, some downright mean and cruel. Our inhumanity now shows through online too.  We can do better.

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Howard Richard Debs received a University of Colorado Poetry Prize at age 19. After spending the past fifty years in the field of communications, with recognitions including a Distinguished Achievement Award from the Educational Press Association of America, he has recently resumed his literary pursuits, and his latest work appears or is forthcoming in Calliope, Big River Poetry Review, Jewish Currents, Poetica Magazine, Misfitmagazine, Star 82 Review, The Review Review, Belle Reve Literary Journal, Verse-Virtual, Dialogual, Sediments Literary-Arts Journal, Piecemeal Review, Remarkable Doorways Literary Magazine, Indiana Voice Journal, Blue Bonnet Review, China Grove, I am Not A Silent Poet,among others, and On Being online in which appears his ekphrastic Holocaust poetry series “Terezin: Trilogy Of Names” and also in On Being online his essay “The Poetry of Bearing Witness” and Eclectica Magazine, in which his essay “Vindicating Holocaust Poetry” appears from which stems the work in progress, New Voices from Salvaged Words: An Anthology of Contemporary Holocaust Poetry and Essays. His work has been selected for final judges’ consideration for the Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Awards for Poems on the Jewish Experience. His background in photography goes back many years, both creative and technical, and his photography will be found in select publications, including inRattle online as “Ekphrastic Challenge” artist and guest editor. Born and bred in Chicago, he now lives in sunny South Florida with his wife of 50 years Sheila, where they spend considerable time spoiling their four grandchildren. Author listing Poets & Writers Directory https://www.pw.org/content/howard_debs
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