Chronic Pain and Avoidance

The second time around

Making it through the day with an overactive immune system is exhausting. You are trapped in a body that seems hard-wired to misbehave. You look and feel very different than you once were. You find many small things to celebrate. You purchase colorful new shoes because your feet and ankles feel better, you laugh at inane jokes just to feel alive. You hide your pain as much as possible so you can still seem fun and lively, this takes a lot of effort. Normalcy is an adopted attitude.

When you are in your twenties and diagnosed with a lifelong disease, it is a shock that is very difficult to accept. You have medicine bottles everywhere and are told to take this pill four times a day, the next pills you take eight of once a week, one pill morning and night, and another only at night. Disbelief sets in and you…

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In my dream, I am the president.

live in the layers

I rarely do this, but the spirits are moving me to re-post (with slight updates) this amazing, necessary verse I shared two years ago:

“Landai belong to women,” Safia Siddiqi, a renowned Pashtun poet and former Afghan parliamentarian, said. “In Afghanistan, poetry is the women’s movement from the inside.”

“A poem is a sword,” Saheera Sharif, Mirman Baheer’s founder, said. Literature, she says, is a more effective battle for women’s rights than shouting at political rallies. “This is a different kind of struggle.”

Today I share a testament to the power of verse from the women of Afghanistan. The following couplets are called landays (or landai), an oral and often anonymous song, each with 22 syllables, created by and for the more than twenty million Pashtun women who span the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Whether sung to the beat of a hand drum in a rural village centuries ago or whispered furtively…

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We are a human patch of dandelions

live in the layers

I found this Bill Holm (1943-2009) poem when I was browsing at the magical Poets House in New York last summer and am just as arrested by it this afternoon as I was months ago…

bill-holm

“Spring Again”

Why this anger at grass or pigweed
or aphids killing honeysuckle?
This is just what happens in the world.
It’s us who fertilize our own
miseries and love them.
We are a human patch of dandelions,
each yellow flower mumbling:
one more war, one more of those
presidents and then we’ll stop.
Every drink is the drunk’s last one,
then the next one, and the next one,
and we all know it, whatever
public lies we tell each other
while bending our heads to the hoe.

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A Returning

Sunlight in Winter

IMG_1984

“I have been away.

I have often thought of how to begin this blog again after a long hiatus and then more time would pass and there it stood waiting for me to speak, write, and reach out.

The reason for my silence is the same reason for beginning this blog. Living with chronic illness permeates everything we do. It is the scaffolding of which we build each day. It determines our daily plans, what we take on, and what we leave unfinished. As I dedicated each day to doctor’s appointments, physical therapy, medication changes, and rebuilding my life after a health storm, this unfinished blog provided comfort knowing that it was a place for me to return.

As the months passed, I was forced into long stretches of bed rest, breaking from work, my passions, the world, and my voice. This is the cycle, after all, of the chronically…

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And if the sun comes How shall we greet him?

live in the layers

I can’t believe I’ve let nine years of this blog pass without posting the work of the inimitable and essential Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000), so let me amend that now with one of her great early poems.

brooks

“truth”

And if sun comes
How shall we greet him?
Shall we not dread him,
Shall we not fear him
After so lengthy a
Session with shade?

Though we have wept for him,
Though we have prayed
All through the night-years—
What if we wake one shimmering morning to
Hear the fierce hammering
Of his firm knuckles
Hard on the door?

Shall we not shudder?—
Shall we not flee
Into the shelter, the dear thick shelter
Of the familiar
Propitious haze?

Sweet is it, sweet is it
To sleep in the coolness
Of snug unawareness.

The dark hangs heavily
Over the eyes.

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