Not Dead Yet

There is safety in apart-ment living;
would corral the little ones, declare
responsibility, obligations as a mask
for this self-banishing compulsion…

except that I am lying prone, exposed –
brains spilling onto concrete – shadows
revealing the darkness of my condition,
hopelessly locked in physical inertia.

I am an unwitting contributor to
scientific (and pseudo) probing:
audacious autopsies pronouncing
conclusive evidence of motives.

Too polite (and weakened) to deflect,
I submit, demonstrating complacency,
sacrificing autonomy; fail to assert
that it is I who is taking this life test.

And, by the way, am passing quite
adequately, which defies all rational
diagnosis and prognosis, and serves
to reassure me of ultimate success.

(Not Dead Yet first appeared here June, 2016. Image my own.)

Shoebox Dreams

A simple shoebox, repurposed
with plastered images of dreams –
paper affirmations of aspirations –
shelved and forgotten, its contents

snapshots, faded and torn, remnants
of another time, a different future –
captured when potential was prime
and possibility untainted by illness

This one was retirement – a supposed
celebration – but note how the colour
has drained the cracks obliterating
pride of accomplishment; and notice

how this one crumbles to the touch –
the fragments dissipating even as
my life has dissipated, the image
lost before memory resurfaces, so

much loss when circumstance dictates
direction, overpowers will, and plans
like snowflakes, vanish in the heat
of reality – pain and insult burning

But wait…this one looks promising –
the edges only slightly torn, the image
discernible – could it be that there is
hope yet – a future author I might be?

That’s the thing about times to come,
we fill them with imaginings, and pray,
our hope, like balloons set free in a sea
of unforeseen challenges, and seldom

does the end result reflect projected
plotting, and yet, there is power in
the dreaming, and so I’ll replace the old
with new photographs to store away.

(This is a rerun of a rerun. Still resonates. Image my own)

If I Were a Kitchen

If I were a kitchen,
I’d want an old-fashioned woman
at my counters – rolling dough
canning pickles, chutney, jam,
homemade pasta sauce,
and every Sunday, a roast.
She’d wear her sweat like a saint,
ignore her aching back –
one practiced hand feeding
her Carnation baby, while
other children flocked to Formica,
hot flesh sticking to vinyl
as they picked at fresh made
sweet buns, the pot on the stove
perpetually simmering.

Or give me modern efficiency –
ninjas and presses, air fryers
and induction cookers –
let the children belly up
to the breakfast bar, chomp
on veggies and humus, while
cook totes baby in a sling,
and preps bone broth,
strains of Baby Einstein
emitting from a propped up iPad,
while a cellphone vibrates
on granite, and the Keurig
spits out Starbucks Pike.

Just don’t abandon me,
piles of unopened mail,
or tossed aside receipts
company for coffee rings
on my counters.
Please don’t litter my surfaces
with rotting takeout containers, or
dishes caked with processed cheese –
don’t leave my stainless steel sinks
stained, spoiled food reeking
in the refrigerator, traces
of late night mishaps curdling
on the floor; absence of familiar
sounds declaring my presence invalid.

(Rewrite of a rewrite. Image my own)

Shifting to Acceptance

In illness, I am passenger –
no matter how venturous
mind’s reach, the raw truth
is that limitations confine

This is not a sentence
for some perceived crime,
but a re-framing – attitude
shifting to acceptance

Choice becomes thoughtful –
time allows for that now –
and gratitude takes hold
in every corner of “I can”.

(Art my own)

Mental-Pause

Where do the words go
when they slip through the cracks
of my mental filing system?

And where is recognition
when words reappear,
no longer categorized
or referenced –
out of alphabetical order –

not even an inkling of recall
as if our acquaintance
is akin to discovery?

(Mental-pause first appeared here January, 2018. This version edited.
Image my own.)

Maybe

Maybe I just needed a new perspective –
like the famed Hanged Man of tarot –
committed to some deep, internal need,
I willed a horizontal shift; landed with intent.

Maybe it is not my legs that are disabled,
but a soul longing to escape the continual
discord of perpetual motion, a never-ending
to-do list of the success-driven persona.

Maybe there is a greater purpose for being
that is not encompassed by outer drive –
a mysterious meaning that is revealed only
in the quiet stillness in which I now dwell.

Maybe I have been called to a personal
pilgrimage – a Camino of sorts – a crusade
of spirit designed to cleanse and enlighten –
the journey is certainly arduous enough.

Maybe it is through acceptance, finally
having released a need to control, move,
achieve, accomplish that I am able to
embrace the true lessons of suffering.

Maybe this cocooning is an act of Grace
demanding surrender before the actual
transformation occurs, and I will emerge,
legless or not, winged and ready to soar.

Maybe, just maybe, this stripped down,
barren existence is not a penance for
shameful living, but a desert crossing,
offering re-alignment: hard-fought peace.

(Maybe first appeared here Feb. 2017. Image my own)

The Same, But Broken

Fragility blindsides me –
I am a strong woman,
not courageous
but accepting
in face of pain,
grief,
illness.

Fragility is pervasive –
body fibres stretched
and torn, on brink
of brokenness;
mind overwhelmed,
obsesses, unable to organize
or let go…

If only I could let go.

I am weeping and not –
weeping from frustration
of immediate impossibility;
unwilling to weep, for totality
of loss is beyond me.

Outside these walls,
life continues,
regards me with disgust/
indifference/repulsion –
equality ignores the ailing.

And, yet…

in this state of rawness,
stripped of busy-ness,
I am as any other –

Just a soul seeking
a meaningful existence.

(The Same, But Broken first appeared here December, 2014. This edition has been revised. Art my own.)