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f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

November 15, 2007

not your typical mid-argument murder (or was it?)

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 2:38 pm

Put this tale in my Only in Schenectady (I Hope) File:

John McKeraghan’s obituary says that he “passed away unexpectedly Oct. 25, 2007 at Ellis Hospital, Schenectady.” (“John J. McKeraghan, 23,”, Oneonta, NY, Oct. 25, 2007). McKeraghan was a 23-three-year-old, self-employed welder, from Earlville, NY, who had moved back to Schenectady a couple months earlier. His death was surely “unexpected” and shocking for his family and friends, but was not surprising — after he was stabbed in the back by a friend (32-year old Joseph Bell) during an argument that Thursday night in Schenectady.

   While murder is a rare result, it’s surely not unusual for two young men dating two sisters to have words and issues.  One of the men living behind the other’s apartment building in a van might create more opportunities for conflict to arise; and the stress of a life that includes frequent meals at the City Mission could aggravate their other issues.   Still, this mid-argument murder seems especially sad and tragic, when you consider what the men were ostensibly arguing about: how to care for the long-time girlfriend of the murder victim, while she was having an epileptic seizure. (See “Police say bad blood led to stabbing death,” WNYT13, Oct. 26, 2007)

a bumblebee
stumbles in clover

………………….. by Matt Morden – from Stumbles in Clover (Snapshot Press, 2007; order form); orig. pub. The Heron’s Nest (Oct. 2001)

According to the Albany Times Union (Oct. 27, 2007): “Less than 24 hours after police say he plunged a kitchen knife into the back of a young man who was assisting a sick woman, a bleary-eyed Joseph Bell Jr. insisted Friday the slaying was an accident.”

Confessed murderer Joseph Bell

“This is for the record,” Bell . . announced to a reporter and two correction officers in an interview at the Schenectady County Jail. “I didn’t mean to kill him. I just wanted scare to him. One thing led to another and that happened. I’m sorry that happened.”

Police and witness told the TU:

“Shortly before 6:30 Thursday night, McKeraghan’s ex-girlfriend, 39-year-old Bette Lewinski, suffered a seizure on the back porch of Bell’s Summit Avenue home, according to police and Lewinski. McKeraghan, familiar with Lewinski’s illness, came to her aid, she said.

“For reasons that remained unclear Friday, McKeraghan and Bell quarreled over whether Lewinski should be treated inside or outside the home, Schenectady County District Attorney Robert M. Carney said.”

” . . . The dispute allegedly culminated with Bell grabbing the knife and stabbing McKeraghan once in the back.”

The article notes that McKeraghan had just returned to the home after having dinner at the City Mission on Hamilton Street, where an altercation between Bell and another person “may have agitated Bell before the incident.” Ms. Lewinski [referred to in press accounts as his girlfriend, ex-girlfriend, fiancee and ex-fiancee] would not discuss what had triggered the fight, “other than saying there had been a rivalry between McKeraghan and Bell, who police said was dating Lewinski’s sister.”

There was a candlelight vigil held outside the apartment building the night after the murder, with much praise for the victim. “He was a beautiful, wonderful person and he didn’t deserve what he got,” a tearful Lewinski said of McKeraghan. “We came here to start a new life, and his ended before it got started.” Lawrence McWalker, who helps maintain the apartment building, said he knew the two men haven’t been getting along, but didn’t think one would end up allegedly killing the other over how to help someone.

“Joe and John they’d take their shirts off for anybody, they’d help anybody, it’s just real sad,” [McWalker] said.

the touch of a child’s hair
soft from rain

death register
nothing fills the silence
as the ink dries

quiet afternoon
the office ant escapes
the office spider

mountain wind
the stillness of a lamb
gathering crows

…………………………………….. by Matt Morden
“death register” & “quiet afternoon” – Stumbles in Clover
“mountain wind” – New Resonance 2

Coming Soon to f/k/a: A field-full of poems from our friend Matt Morden‘s first full-volume collection of haiku and senryu — Stumbles in Clover (Snapshot Press, 2007), whose title poem can be found near the top of this posting. Trust me, you won’t want to wait for my mini-review before ordering this even-better-than-expected haiku tome. Many selected haiku have appeared at f/k/a over the past three years. Use our search box or click on the links on Matt’s archive page to find them. And, find much more Morden at his weblog Morden Haiku.

mid-argument –
Her Honor
catches me staring

two squirrels race down
the fire escape –
mid-argument, we smile

the senior partner has
a senior minute

……………………………………………….. dagosan

It may be of small consolation to the loved one’s of John McKeraghan, but I’d like to pass on some tips on how to treat a seizure victim, in his memory. Reading the story of his death made me aware that I would not know what to do for someone having an epileptic seizure. Click for the Epilepsy Foundation description of seizure/convulsion. Here are some guidelines for its treatment:

First Aid for Generalized Tonic-Clonic Seizures

* Prevent further injury. Place something soft under the head, loosen tight clothing, and clear the area of sharp or hard objects.
* Do not force objects into the person’s mouth.
* Do not restrain the person’s movements unless they place him or her in danger.
* Turn the person on his or her side to open the airway and allow secretions to drain.
* Stay with the person until the seizure ends.
* Do not pour any liquids into the person’s mouth or offer any food, drink, or medication until he or she is fully awake.
* If the person does not resume breathing after the seizure, start cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
* Let the person rest until he or she is fully awake.
* Be reassuring and supportive when consciousness returns.

* Note: A convulsive seizure is usually not a medical emergency unless it lasts longer than five minutes, or a second seizure occurs soon after the first, or the person is pregnant, injured, diabetic, or not breathing easily. In these situations the person should be taken to an emergency medical facility.

For more information, see “How to Treat Someone Having an Epileptic Seizure” from’s Health Editor, who adds:

Overall Tips & Warnings

* Check to see if the person has any medical identification readily available that indicates that she has epilepsy. Some people wear special jewelry, such as bracelets, that are clearly visible for these situations.
* Call 911 immediately if you believe this is the first time the person has ever had an epileptic seizure, if the person is in immediate physical danger, such as in a swimming pool or body of water, or if the person is pregnant. You should also seek immediate emergency care for the person if the seizure’s length is longer than five minutes or if a second seizure occurs while the person is still unconscious.

Finally, if you are a visual learner, see the video on First Aid Basics for Seizure, by First Aid instructor Amy Pearson.

at the height
of the argument the old couple
pour each other tea

……………….. George Swede – Almost Unseen (Brooks Books, 2000)

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