I can’t find my ass with both hands anymore. It started November 4, when I got the call that there was a suspicious finding on my x ray. That day turned my world upside down.

CT scan followed the next few days, followed by a phone call that confirmed lung cancer.

The whirlwind of doctor visits, PET scans, MRIs, biopsies, and finally, a lobectomy of my upper left lobe. The tumor was huge, really. That was January 12. Pain still persists and shortness of breath is my best friend.

Next shock: I started chemo yesterday. Not because of mets, but to knock out any lingering microscopic cancer cells lurking in hidden tissue or organs The regimen is short but brutal. I get a triple dose of two drugs every three weeks. If I can handle it. I asked how long the side effects would last between doses and the answer was airy, but blunt. 4 to 5 days, but those few days would be hell on wheels. My hair is going to fall out soon. Nausea is already paying a visit, but I have good drugs for that when I remember to take them. I can look forward to mouth sores, more neuropathy, blood sugar swings, and weekly blood tests for white cell counts. Whee.

I can’t shoot a rifle anymore. The mediport excludes that. My left side has a pacemaker. I asked when I would get the port taken out and the nurse said, ‘never’. That hit hard. I will not be cured. What a kick in the ass. I have a small bit of gratitide for the port, though. My hands and arms are still bruised and tender from the needlepoint they performed for the lobectomy. Now all the blood draws can be done in my chest.

This next part is the most important.

My support system is amazing. I never expected the outpouring of care and love from the people I know even though I’ve not met most of them. Offers of rides, monetary gifts, food, phone calls and texts, you name it. My independent life has been humbled. I’m just now learning to accept with gratitude the help and hope so freely given without expectation. This is the essence of love. I want to hide my face and weep for the grief I feel, but then I am reminded of so many people lifting me up and gladly carrying me, and so I won’t give up. I will never give up.

I always thought if I ever had a disease like cancer, I would know it, feel it like an alien in my body.

It hasn’t been that way at all. The symptoms crept in one small twinge at a time, one extra cough at a time, one afternoon nap at a time.

One day, I was willing to bet I had a touch of COPD. I would have lost that bet the next day.

The medical machine crunk up slowly, idling for a scant week. Then that machine, that infernal machine, kicked into gear and started rolling toward an end I cannot see or fathom.

I’m not sick-yet. I’m not at the finality of the diagnosis-yet. But, I am paralyzed on this new road. It’s not familiar and it looks dark up ahead. The steering wheel is in a white-knuckle grip.

So, tomorrow, the machine picks up speed. Someone said, it’s like being handed a grenade with the pin already pulled.

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Look Back in Anger 2010

Look forever into the western sky.

Horizon of emptiness, hollowed out soul

Nothing but a dream of getting out to the place where horizons are buildings, people, noise, hurry, excitement, HAPPINESS

Leave behind silence. Leave behind ceaseless wind. Leave behind a curve of unspoken secrets of those back there in the quiet terror

Keep close. And late at night, take out in a spasm of regret the splashes of ugly memories on those who would rather forget. In the silent aftermath of desperate longing for absolution, the spill of harsh kitchen light and tickticktick of the stupid clock that sees all and knows nothing.

It never goes away, those dark grindings of heat and cold that pass through landscapes alive with voices crying

A passing train offers golden squares of light where people are laughing and talking and pretending to be normal but nobody is really normal

Another generation of lust and dust yearns to find the horizon of freedom in the western sky

 

 

 

scenic view of the trees
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There’s a curious freedom in dreams

curious and crucial

it makes for exciting scenarios, heroic actions, perfect endings with perfect partners

perfect skin, perfect teeth, perfect body

And just for that while, that vivid, fantastic dream period, the smile in the mirror contains all the wisdom that unlocks every mystery, answers every question that my fevered mind shouts into the void:  Two nights in a row,

My lost love reappeared to let me know that all those feelings never left completely

that what we’ve built separately could have never been accomplished together, because

Together, we were complete. Together, we reached the pinnacle.

There would have been no need to strive for more, to engage every ounce of energy in creating a place of serenity, for we were already serene together

And for a few minutes, I embrace the wisdom of dreams, the divine message of meaning and hope

that I cannot fathom when I am awake

And it feels quiet and good and perfect for a few minutes.

adult alcohol bar bartender
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Either the crazy never begins
or the crazy never ends

Irascible writers are blown by the
winds to their place, screaming or quiet

In life, as in marriage or writing or working or drinking or making love or sweating out a hangover

Desperate regret births fear
And so, safely in the waiting room, under the buzzing lights
we will read a magazine, toss it aside
pace and curse and commiserate with others
but
we will never leave that room

marsh

 

 

 

He tucked a cigarette behind his ear and stared at the blinding sand and the sad, blinding, dead-end strip of sand stared back

It knew it would win in the end

I watched his boot trace a silly amoeba, then dot a couple of eyes with the toe

and the sand stared back

There’s a silence in the country that pierces deep and dark and fills unsuspecting hearts with historical grief from hundreds of years of spilled blood and screams and ripped out hope

‘Stay here and suffer’ the silence begged. ‘Let it eat you alive, this soul stabbing pain’

He let the old rage come in and fill his body with pulsing red  He felt a high pitch of keening sorrow as it pushed aside the rage

it stabbed his lungs

He fell to the sand, the eternal sand

the wondrous grounding of soul came to quiet

He dipped a finger into the sand and tasted grit  tasted salt  tasted what was

what is  what will be

the beating of his heart remains connected to the sand

He felt dizzy and heard a drumbeat of the elders passing him a mantle

in the passing of a low rider

There is no turning back from these atrocities. There is no “I was just joking” minimizing.

This is the pivot point. We either reclaim our humanity or we continue down hell’s path.

I spoke to a woman who was nonchalant. She said, I’m legal. I stared at her. She was engulfed in “I got mine.”

I shopped today, minding my place. White supremacy. It hangs on me like a spiderweb.

I don’t know how to shed it. But I can do something. I can be one among many.

I can be non-centered. This isn’t my world. I just live in it. I can speak out as a human.

I make it an awareness and a yoke.

It is. It is a sunset in the finite understanding of tarot card readers and icy cold beers drawn from a

tap.

What is inside curls like smoke to the air.

It bends in the darkness that has settled over this big, brawling country.

My tiny flame, other tiny flames will form the fateful lightning of a terrible, swift sword. And truth will march on…

I sling words with feeling without skimming on the surface like a cockroach across a puddle.

I get drunk and cry with my pen instead of writing about my tears.  Anyone can do that.

I drag myself through a slimy alley of darkness and live to keep it a secret.

I don’t have time to spout pretty words and platitudes and cocktail party phrases.

My life, my existence is this: every word counts.

Every stinking drop of sweat on this table is a poem. Every lamentation for lost vices pushes a limit. Every painful sunrise is a testament to being laid bare every night.

Every click of the compressor motor on the refrigerator counts down to the end, closer than the beginning, and I am alive to feel every second of it, taste every bitter dreg of it, lose myself in all the places where I don’t matter.

I lost a day somewhere in the ether where beer, getting old, and christian holidays mix together in a stew of oh, I don’t know, maybe a lot of bullshit?

I was thinking today about how I want to be liked by strangers. Not loved, not desired. Liked.  As if my wellbeing depends on what some random piece of shit says to me. I feel guilty when slights occur, as if I have some kind of power over someone else to feel a certain way.  I thought about this when a friend of mine got dragged very harshly by some people and I wanted to defend her, but short of saying that they were scum sucking sociopaths, I was stumped.  Years ago, someone browbeat me in an online conversation that I was blindsided by and had no answer for, so I shut down. What I really wanted to do was go after the person with both fists and as many insults as I could hurl, but I didn’t.

It came to me that I was raised to be nice. Be nice. Be nice, put others first. Be nice, your wants don’t matter.  Be nice, don’t hurt others’ feelings. Be nice, excuse others’ behavior.

Be nice.

Be nice.

I turned into a doormat.  I turned into a pile of mush. I was weak-willed because of the constant admonition to be nice.  I sincerely regret that I took that to heart.  It caused me no end of trouble my whole life.  I became someone I am not. Be nice.

Be nice.

I admired in a limited way, people who spoke for themselves, ever mindful when they would fall off the “nice” track.  They were then bad, and therefore unworthy of my time or attention.

I see all this with a keen hindsight and no small amount of anger, but-no, I’m done being nice.  I’m done excusing my shitty upbringing. I’m done dealing with other people’s arrogance because for sure, I’m not storing jewels for my crown in heaven.  There is no passing grade.  This is it.

This thing called life is it.

“It’s not looking too good to be me today, and tomorrow doesn’t look any better.”

Day one: wrangling this damned depression. It’s not going away.  I cannot wish it away from me any more than I can wish to sprout wings.  The idea is good, the desire is there, but the laws of reality are as immutable as gravity. So. I have taken my fish oil, krill oil, vitamins, and drunk some wonderful green tea left over from yesterday. In the past, I took pharmaceuticals and I found the side effects to be more debilitating than effective.

Next: coming to grips with the fact that I no longer have a part-time job. This is a funny one–not ha ha funny, but strange funny.  I was getting bored with it anyway, and it was taking up more time than I wanted to give to it, so I was relieved when I received word that my services were no longer needed.  My time was at last my own again.  I ordered new art supplies, cleared off my work table, and set about doing what I really want to do. Well, that table stands in judgement as we speak, waiting for me to do something. Anything.

So, there’s a big ball of unrelieved anxiety that shouldn’t even exist. And it’s about money and self-worth.

All my life, I equated my job with my worth. I’ve had wonderful, unsuitable jobs that paid well. I’ve had crappy jobs that I kept because that’s what you do. Along the way, my body has broken down, my mind has shut itself off from the hell I was in, and here we are.

I’ve set goals for this month. They are modest and attainable. One goal is to write every day, even if it’s just an exercise for a half hour or so. I will post on here every day. My next goal is to work on my art pieces every day.  I have enough of them in various stages of completion that I could always have something on the table. My art website is next. Even if I just look at it every day, I will have it in my mind.

This is my job and I am going to treat it as such, instead of an interesting hobby. This is what I love. I’m not a writer or an artist for mercenary reasons.

That voice says, Hey, why waste time doing something that may not bring you money?

Holy crap.  That’s it.  That’s the whole reason I’ve turned away from regular writing, regular craft work. It’s not considered “worthy” without money. I wonder where I got that notion? I wonder why I’ve held on to it for so long? That thought has to go.  It has to disappear.