Thursday, June 11, 2009



Jhene Chilombo

Professor Bailey-Hoffman

English 127

10 September 2008

  Genre Exercise


     The text that I chose to change into another genre is the poem “Life is Fine” by Langston Hughes:


 I went down to the river,

I set down on the bank.

I tried to think but couldn't,

So I jumped in and sank.

I came up once and hollered!

I came up twice and cried!

If that water hadn't a-been so cold

I might've sunk and died.

 But it was      Cold in that water!      It was cold!

I took the elevator

Sixteen floors above the ground.

I thought about my baby

And thought I would jump down.

I stood there and I hollered!

I stood there and I cried!

If it hadn't a-been so high

I might've jumped and died.

  But it was      High up there!      It was high!

So since I'm still here livin',

I guess I will live on.

I could've died for love--

But for livin' I was born

Though you may hear me holler,

And you may see me cry--

I'll be dogged, sweet baby,

If you gonna see me die.

   Life is fine!      Fine as wine!      Life is fine!



I chose to change this poem into a short story with the same title and a similar message.


Life is Fine


        It was very cold that day, even though the sun was shining. Sarah woke up sooner than she had planned. The empty bottle of sleeping pills and Tequila stared her in the face as she opened her eyes. She tried to force herself back to sleep, but the vomit rising in her throat wouldn’t allow it. With all the blinds drawn in her tiny apartment it was impossible to tell what time of day it was. Sarah could care less. “I wonder if I just lay here on my back while I throw up…choke on my own vomit like Jimi Hendrix...maybe that’ll work,” Sarah thought to herself. She chuckled at how crude she could be and the vomit succeeded. The phone rang and she stumbled towards the bathroom. It had probably been ringing all morning. Probably her mother calling to say “Happy Birthday.”


     October 16th, Sarah’s 27th birthday and the day she would have liked to be her death day. “I’ve still got time,” she figured. Sarah looked at the hair dryer and then the tub thinking how poetic it would be to be found that way; lifeless in a warm bubble bath. But it wasn’t “bad ass” enough for her. She always considered herself to be a “bad ass”, a real rebel without a  cause.


     “Why would you give me such a boring name like, Sarah?” she asked her mother once when she was 16. She never thought Sarah was an edgy enough name for her. “Roxanne,” she said out loud as she stood and looked in the mirror, “I should have been a Roxanne.”


      The phone rang again and this time she had a feeling it was him. The same “him” who the night before she’d caught having sex with her best friend. She couldn’t allow herself to answer the phone. She swore she would never be like her mother and let a man like her father run over her and ultimately ruin her entire existence. “They all leave eventually,” Sarah thought to her self the night before as she swallowed the poisons that were to end her so-called misery.  He had been the father she never wanted, but always needed. And she had given in to love, in which she always thought to be a lie.


     The little piece of paper that would have been her last testimony to her family and friends was neatly folded at the end of her bed. Sarah couldn’t understand why her attempt had failed, “A fucking waste of paper,” she said to herself. She opened up the note:


To whom it may concern,

This will be the last time I cry; the last time I put my all into a lie.

I cant take the pain of a love lost…a love never had….the story of my life.



     She laughed out loud. “What a fucking maniac I am!” As she looked down at her ring finger where the engagement ring he had given her had been, she wondered what she had done with it in her drunken state the night before. Her eyes began to tear. In her little apartment with vomit all over her bed spread on her 27th birthday, she was alone. She walked to the kitchen to grab a knife. “I’ve seen this in a movie once…it’s a sure thing,” she thought. Upon opening up the silverware drawer she saw that there were no clean knives. “FUCK!” she screamed. It wasn’t suppose to be this hard to kill yourself. If only she had gotten her firearm license like she had planned, she could have shot herself and went out in true “bad ass” fashion. She had planned on buying a gun, she had planned on getting a skull tattoo on her breast and she had planned on skydiving one day. But Sarah never got around to any of those things. Instead she lead a very safe life. Sarah was just a “Sarah” .Not quite the rebel she thought she was. And maybe that was the reason she was alive today.


     As she lay on the cold kitchen floor she suddenly felt awake. She was alive. She was suppose to be dead today, but she was alive! Her doorbell rang. “Great,” she said. “Happy Birthday my love,” her mother sang, bursting through the door. “Well! It looks like you celebrated early huh?!”  Sarah ran to the toilet to dispose of what would be the last of her vomit. “My dear! Its 3pm! Open these blinds and lets get the day started!” Sarah wiped the throw up from her mouth and sat on the edge of her bed. “Looks like you’ve had a rough night,” her mother laughed. Sarah just looked at her and couldn’t help but smile. She paused for a moment to decide whether or not she’d tell her mom about all that had happened the night before. Perhaps she’d show her the suicide note, or explain what she had been through the previous night. But instead, she smiled and didn’t say a word.


     She stood up to open the blinds as her mother had ordered. Sarah listened as her mother talked loudly about something Sarah was obviously not paying attention to. As she looked out the window she realized, even though it was cold that day…the sun was shining and her life was just fine.



Tayler said...

loved it...very good! kinda gave me chills....

Shandra E...*the misses said...

It read so nicely...smooth too!! I just glided right through to the end...&& the ending...just perfect!! :)

lol..although i will admit, your use of imagery was so good, at times i swear i nearly threw up myself!! lol all that darn vomit!! x-o

Imani said...

I'm a writer too! and I think what you wrote was awesome. I understood how you connected to the Hughes poem (which I loved by the way) to your short story. The description and imagery was great! Loved it.
check out my blog at !

ailani-yomeili said...


Anonymous said...

I like it! ur a very good writer. U have so many talents & so many ways to share ur experiences (ur Amazin' so Amazin' =]). & u express ur thoughts very well u should write a book or somethin like that I would luv 2 read it. But good story & the poem and ur story came 2gether.

Christoff said...

I’m not going to lie it was you twitpic that drew me in but after looking at your myspace page and reading your blog im officially in love lol. I never came across anybody so down to earth when I was in Cali. Don’t be scared I know this is a little unorthodox just trying to make new contacts for when I come back out there. My name is CrownRoial on twitter don’t be a stranger.

You have a beautiful voice

youngchellz said...

I absolutely, positively had a love/hate relationship with genre study when I had to take The Writer's Mind a few semesters back (I go to Rowan University in South Jersey). I did a piece on Barbie, and although I struggled with compiling everything together and making it flow, my final product RAWKED! (lol)

MzNeekie the Afrobuttafly said...

WOW Jhene...just wow. I have been in love with words since I could utter them. And that was a joy to read. I've been so consumed with hating life I haven't really been living it. I haven't been reading or writing like I used to. But you my love inspire me. Ugh it's just beautiful. I just get lost in stories and poetry to the point that I wanna stay the story forever. Thank you for sharing this. It was so vivid..kept my attention from start to finish. You really are a gifted young woman in more ways than 1.