Saturday, December 31, 2011

For Rick Harmsen. Lifted up now.


Joe Cocker & Jennifer Warnes - Up where we belong 1983

Who knows what tomorrow brings
in a world few hearts survive
All I know is the way I feel
when it's real I keep it alive the road is long
There are mountains in our way
but we climb the stairway every day

Love lifts us up where we belong
where the eagles cry on a mountain high
love lifts us up where we belong
far from the world below up where the clear winds blow

Some hang on to used to be
live their lives looking behind
All we have is here and now
all our lives out there to find
The road is long and there are moutains in our way
but we climb the stairway every day

Love lifts us up where we belong
where the eagles cry on a mountain high
love lifts us up where we belong
far from the world we know
where the clear wind blows

Time goes by no time cry
life's you and I alive

Love lifts us up where we belong
where the eagles cry on a mountain high
love lifts us up where we belong
far from the world we know
where the clear winds blow

Love lifts us up where we belong
far from the world we know
where the clear winds blow

Love lifts us up where we belong
where the eagles cry on a mountain high



A slow song for deep winter.



Trees are singing near my house.
Under weight of falling snow
and eight miles of air they
sing slowly from the heart.

Branches crack and saplings whip around
leafless and brown when wind dances.
No bird could cling to these wild things.
They are singing a song of cold and sleep.

Loss is their melody now and nothing more.
No spring, no summer in this tune, only ice.
Stars hum descant as trees sing—
I learn my place in this deep and subtle art.

Trees near my house sing slowly from the heart.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

OUT OF TIME





(A holiday thought)
My old clock used to tell the time
and subdivide diurnity;
but now it's lost both hands and chime
and only tells eternity.
----------------------------Piet Hein
(click on the name to find out more about this amazing guy and read more of his "Grooks.")

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

No place like...



Into time you throw your best self, your worst self, the self you thought you’d lost on a school trip in the eighth grade and the self that only speaks in Pig Latin.  All of your selves move forward into time where we all place our boats, our little boats with leaky hull and broken spar, our 32 foot yachts, our sturdy rafts.  We sail as far as we can.  We sail until the sea takes us and then we dive into ocean depths, down into a blueness that can never be taken back.  Time takes us on this journey and Home is always forward, home is always the way out.  It is the round opening we climb through to find the light, it is the ground beneath our impossibly small feet.  Home is the breath and the hair we brush.  Home is the small boat we wake up in each morning and the dark line of thunderclouds roiling on a distant horizon.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------(Rhonda)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Hospice Nurse, Remembering



One death in the city.
Two in the country.
Three by the light of the silvery moon.
Four crying peace.
Five hearing angels.
Six hearing gunfire.
Seven never born.
Eight never lived.
Nine holding tight.
Ten letting go.

Letting go.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

I believe that Schroedinger’s cat is still alive…

A tattered old lady (yes, with pearls),
thirteen boys and girls from a nearby elementary school,
Michael and his famous dog Curly
and one lone swan flying in from Charleston, South Carolina;
all of them converged last evening
(just at sunset)
in Times Square.  NYNY

They danced together for a short while,
whirling past tourists and other ravenous beasts,
while the swan let loose a song of towering majesty.

I saw this myself
(this delicious pinpoint moment
in the space-time continuum)

with one eye fixed firmly on the truth,
the other eye on some kind of wonderful.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Bones and Books


On each of your bones is a luminous script.
In the curve of each letter—
in the remotest part of each letter—
lie small cities which never see sun
but rely instead on light gathered from
a vast underground river: the inner life.
Within these cities
philosophers and poets are held in high esteem. 
Here books are made from the white ground underfoot
and the daily diet is rich in verse and literature—
thoughts artfully cooked into casseroles and stews—
—creation seasoned with a dash of whimsy.

---------------------------------(rhonda)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

My insistent self--a haiku from Al Black







My insistent self


Begs me for attention like 


A leg humping dog




from friend Al Black, who knows how to turn a phrase!

Friday, December 2, 2011

This Igneous Life


 The hard time spent chained to stone
taught me patience.

Through years of lonely communion
with stone I learned listening.

When stone finally weathered and broke
I knelt down on its bones and wept.

-----------------------------------------(rhonda)




The Photo prompt is from a blog called Poets United.  Click on the link below to see the artist who provided the photo.
Photo from Ella's Edge

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Keeping on

I wore my shoes until the seams split,
the soles shredded, my socks showed.
I wore my shoes until I had walked
500 miles and I had walked 500 more.
My shoes carried me on this journey
---each step a revelation.


A path ahead---my shoes gone!
Rocks cut my feet, but I take one more step.


                   One more step...

------------------------------------------(Rhonda)



Sunday, November 27, 2011

. . .In the Middle of the Air


“A whirling torch makes a circle of fire appear before the eye, yet we realize there is but one point of light.”  ‘Abdu’l-Bahá


A circle of fire appeared in the sky—
It happened one day and I must tell you.
I pointed it out to the crowd around me,
But they murmured indignations
And left the hillside, and me alone.
I stood gazing at the light that hung
‘twixt heaven and me, staring til brightness
filled all my eye, my mind, my very soul.
Then it was I felt the earth beneath me
Whirling on its circuit around the sun.

Listen, people, to the voice of God.
He has but this to say:  Burn Brightly

---------------------------------------------(Rhonda)


This poem was written based on the quote from 'Abdu'l-Baha and the old spiritual, “Ezekiel saw da wheel.”  After writing it I actually read the book of Ezekiel and was appalled at the continued hard-headedness of humanity, realizing that the real story was one of fire and retribution.  But redemption comes for us all, as it turns out.  We must be loved beyond measure to be given so many chances for redemption.

    (Listen to the Charioteers sing "Ezekiel Saw Da Wheel."  Very nice.  Smooth.)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Nothing of Worth is Ever Lost

Crystal dishes are stacked at Goodwill,  buried deep
in bundles of baskets and faded tupperware.
Once these held pink and green mints, salted nuts,
crackers and cheese carefully carried
by smiling women in girdles and smooth taffeta,
lean men in dark suits.
My parents dreamed of big things: clean children—
boats near a summer house--an exciting future in space.
Now I hold up one plate to finger the sharp design
and rainbows fly out into the hands of a small boy nearby.
“Mira,” he says.  Look.  Look.

We carry the blessings of fractured light into our rumpled, quilted world.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Ireland, 1850



Each leaf, each least bit of straw
clung to her wet clothes as she walked the old path
and tried to sing in the rising wind.

“Shule aroon” was blown back into her mouth--she blinked
with wild tears but kept singing.  For her there no way home,
only this muddy road and the hope of another place.

Her village was gone, having lost to the hunger,
but still she lived and still she sang, walking toward the Western shore.
I wonder now, what kept her walking?  And even more I wonder,

from what part of the human heart came that song?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Simple Simon listens to the Pieman's Story



"Once I knew everything," said the gaunt old man.

"Everything."

"You could show up with a quizzical look
and I would hand you several tasty answers
before the question mark ever left your puzzled mouth.
Good, self-assured days those were,
full of clever answers baked in my cast-iron stove.

I peddled my answers on street corners
and gave away what I couldn't sell."

Friday, November 18, 2011

Gossip



My neighbor, gossip, visited.
We sat sociably on the sofa
(I had tea) and spoke of many things.
“Why do you come here so often?”  I asked.

“You called me,” said gossip. 
“I only stop by when invited.”  

----------------------------------------------------------------------------(rhonda)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

what to eat when poor



If of thy mortal goods thou art bereft,
and from thy slender store two loaves alone 
to thee are left,
sell one, and with the dole
buy hyacinths to feed thy soul.

               Gulistan of Moslih Eddin Saadi

Monday, November 14, 2011

Lessons in Vision



Never bend your head. Always hold it high. Look the world straight in the eye.

I lived with a blind girl, once upon a time—
and cried because I saw her blindness as
proof that life was unkind and random.

But from her I learned how sight
might involve more than receiving.
From her I learned how to enter the dark,
how to trust to a friend’s uncertain hand,
how blindness was also mine.
She showed me how to move with grace
through a vast and sacred night.

And when she cried, it wasn’t due to any loss of light.

-------------------------------------------------------(rhonda)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Everyone is entitled to MY opinion


Let me think about giving up an opinion.
It could be any opinion. 
About weather or hem-length or toilet training. 

Here is my opinion.  See it?  I’ve polished it,
Put a little hole in the top, right here, and
hung it on a chain around my heart.  Nice, eh?

I see that you have an opinion too.  Nice chain,
by the way.  Yours is a funky color.
I think it has a bad smell and it clashes with your eyes.

You should wear one like mine, don’t you think?
I know where you can get one, and it’ll look
nicer than that old thing.

Yah, my opinion can save lives. 
Your opinion will make us all into slaves, or worse.
You’d better give yours up.  Just pitch it into the garbage.

Smart people wear opinions like mine.  Stupid people
have opinions just like yours.  People who care
wear these.  Heartless people wear those.

Sometimes I want to take the chains off my heart
and say to you, “Hey, nice heart.  Look!  I’ve got
one too!  Wow.  Sweet.”  But then I remember.

My opinion is always best…


 -----------------------------------(rhonda)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

November by Billy Collins



After three days of steady rain -
                                          over two inches said the radio -
I follow the example of monks
who write by a window, sunlight on the page.
 
Five times this morning,
I loaded a wheelbarrow with wood
and steered it down the hill to the house,
and later I will cut down the dead garden
 
with a clippers and haul the soft pulp
to a grave in the woods,
but now there is only
my sunny page which is like a poem
 
I am covering with another poem
and the dog asleep on the tiles,
her head in her paws,
her hind legs played out like a frog.
 
How foolish it is to long for childhood,
to want to run in circles in the yard again,
arms outstretched,
pretending to be an airplane.
 
How senseless to dread whatever lies before us
when, night and day, the boats,
strong as horses in the wind,
come and go,
 
bringing in the tiny infants
and carrying away the bodies of the dead.
 
~ Billy Collins ~
 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Haunted Houses


abandoned house, Detroit

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


All houses wherein men have lived and died
Are haunted houses. Through the open doors
The harmless phantoms on their errands glide,
With feet that make no sound upon the floors.

We meet them at the door-way, on the stair,
Along the passages they come and go,
Impalpable impressions on the air,
A sense of something moving to and fro.

There are more guests at table than the hosts
Invited; the illuminated hall
Is thronged with quiet, inoffensive ghosts,
As silent as the pictures on the wall.

The stranger at my fireside cannot see
The forms I see, nor hear the sounds I hear;
He but perceives what is; while unto me
All that has been is visible and clear.
[...]

So from the world of spirits there descends
A bridge of light, connecting it with this,
O'er whose unsteady floor, that sways and bends,
Wander our thoughts above the dark abyss.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Living in the Elephant

I resigned from Facebook yesterday and find that already I've got more time, will go to bed earlier, have thought about writing and praying.  I woke up the other day with an elephant sentence running around the brain pan and have written a poem about bitter elephants in heaven, which needs to cure for a while.  Here is another elephant poem for your dining delight, written several years ago and based on the poem beginning, "There were six men of Hindoostan to learning much inclined, who went to see an elephant though all of them were blind..."

Living in the Elephant
(A post-modernist allegory)

Looking out little windows on a larger world,
we argue endlessly over what we know--
holding wars and zoning battles and filibusters.
We are separate, alone.  Lowly.
Wandering aimlessly around the house---
going from window to window
hoping the owner will show up.

We eat the food, rearrange the furniture
and figure out the appliances.
The owner of this place may be an alien
and each light socket a way to reach the stars.
He may be our father,
and that yardstick in the corner would be for our rear ends.
He may not be there at all.
Perhaps we build this home in our dreams,
inhabiting it only in our waking hours,
confused as to our truest calling.

The house seems to get larger with each passing year.
Doors appear in thin air and windows give way
to sudden vistas.  How did we get here and
where are the damned blueprints anyway?

No six of us could make sense of this place.
-------------------------------------------------------------(rhonda)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Fascinating Rhythm


Just before that final breath,
memories will circle your heart with song—
memories in harmony,
in counterpoint,
in dissonance, and sweet release.
Memories take measured steps
on a pebbled path round your heart and they sing—
accompanied by flute, or brass, or drum, or bell.
Your memories move toward a sacred threshold
to cross into the sanctuary of truest you.

Not everyone gets the orchestra.
Some death is accompanied by silence,
or the thin wailing of lament.
Some hear tinny music from TV sitcoms and laugh-tracks,
finally understanding that this will be the score of an
endless hell.

Others, whose memories are complicated and messy,
all thrashing and struggle to leave the womb,
these hear something new, 
something aleatorical,
maybe instruments playing jazz riffs
off the unsteady rhythm of their suffering.

How do I know this? You may well wonder.
I’ve circled round the dying often enough
and listened,

with my ear pressed to a heart gone still.
----------------------------------------------------(rhonda)

                                 Mel Torme sings "Fascinating Rhythm."  

Sunday, October 23, 2011

It just begins to live that day....


Throughout this (not quite a) year of postings, I’ve often wondered about the wisdom of putting my own poetry on my own website.  There is a traditional process that poetry goes through on its journey to eternity.  Of course the writing and the re-writing and the re-writing.  But then come the submissions to the millions of little journals publishing poetry for other poets to read.  And the contests.  And the setting of readings for the faithful few.  And the state poetry societies.  It is a lengthy and time-consuming process, especially for those of us who come late to the practice of poetry.  It has the advantage of making the poet work hard to improve her work, to make it speak truly and well. 

A young person with real discipline and love for the art has the time to put in her 10,000 hours in the long trans-continental pipeline to transcendence.  Ted Kooser woke at 4am every morning of his life to write and re-write (before going to his other job) and look where it got him (i.e being named Poet Laureate.)  Emily Dickinson literally did nothing else but write, and still truly never knew if her writing had any merit, let alone the eternal kind.  At 50 or 60, a person with a job AND a love for poetry makes some choices about time.  A person with access to the web and easily built blogs makes other choices, for once published on the web the poem is no longer an “Unpublished Poem.”  I’ve almost entirely stopped sending my poetry out to the “littles,” (can’t keep track of what is sent out and what is on the blog anymore) although I keep getting responses back from submissions made months and months ago.  Here is a poem just published in  “Star*line,” the journal of the Science Fiction Poetry Association.  I remember being so happy to see a journal combining my two favorite genres.  Now that it has already been published, all publication rights revert to me.  Does anyone here in the cloud care that it has been published before?  I think not.  Is it read by anyone, in a “little” or on the blog?  I can only guess and hope.  Will any of these poems make it to the future? 

That’s really not the point.  The point is still, and always has been, the writing and the re-writing and the re-writing.

The Poet Addresses a Theory of Quantum Mechanics and Dyes Her Hair Simultaneously, Thereby Proving that Particles can have Two States at the Same Time.

The string theory posits a great many dimensions:
a dimension of sight.
Probably one of sound.
A dimension of plastic furniture from the ‘60s
and a dimension of china dolls.
A dimension of very small teapots
and one of faithful lovers writing sonnets.
These dimensions exist simultaneously
winding throughout the known universe;
throughout the unknown universe.

Physicists ponder these theories but why don’t they ask me?
I could take them to each dimension,
explain the décor and point out all the doors and windows.
They’re searching for a dimension of innocence,
and I still have an old map showing
the faint path in that direction.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Another Baby Boomer Love Song



It was 1969.  There was a
Peter, Paul and Mary feel to the night.
Love was disease-free and
we had mountains to climb,
wars to end,
peace to establish.

On the battered couch
of a sincere coffee-house
we created dreams and new worlds.
We invented hope again.
Your brown eyes
pulled a languidness
out of my belly
dispelling the cold
of silent ancestors.

You left, soon enough, on a jet plane.
You never came home again
and oh, babe, I've grown so old.

-------------------------------------------------------------(rhonda)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

please let the light that shines on me....


A: All right, who moved the moon?
B: Because last night it was there and now I
C: can't find it where I left it.
D: Darn moon.
E: Even when I look up it isn't there.
F: Finding something like the moon shouldn't be so hard.
G: Gonna have to call the moon lost and found.
H: Had a star once, kept it in my pocket,
I: inside my pocket was a hole--
J: just a little one, but the star slipped out.
K: Kinda cruel. Lose a star. Lose the moon.
L: Losing everything it seems.
M: Miss the light. Miss the sparkle.
N: Never knew how big a hole the moon could leave.
O: Oh, wait. Over there. Oddly placed but
P: perfect. That shine just on the horizon.
Q: Quiet. I'm listening for more light.
R: Really? You hear it too?
S: Sobering thought, isn't it? We can both hear Light
T: trying to push up the big blanket of darkness and
U: unless I'm mistaken there's the moon and my lost star!! 
V: Very small and very shiny.
W: What would we wear if it weren't for stars?
X: Xylophones?
Y: You are silly. Now, put on your star, I'll put on mine and we will
Z: Zippideedooda on outta here.

-----------------------------------------------------------(rhonda)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Falling in Love


Acceptance involves a loss of failure,
as when light loses darkness,
health loses one germ after another,
peace loses the possibility of war and thank God.
I accept these words that appear one by one
thereby losing confusion and an absence of truth.

I accept stars on warm summer nights
along with your hand holding mine
and I give up so much. 

                    I give up so much.
-----------------------------------------------------(rhonda)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Bridge

Alone on an ancient stone bridge high above the falls
a pulmonary season surrounds me—
mist clings to my skin—
water cascades over boulders, one level to the next.
I listen to this mighty conduit of life stream through an earth
breathing wetly, breathing hard. 

Near me a tree is halfway through its ten-year tumble—
mighty roots reach out for faltering earth.
I look deeply into the growing cavern ‘neath the tree
to see only layer after layer of leaf mould,
and the memory of small habitats. 
Worms tunnel toward an unseen precipice—
about to experience the unconfined freedom of open air
and the extreme pull of gravity.
Someday root, leaf and bough will join the little aeronauts,
heaving out of the dirt and into the void,
creaking, cracking into green water far below. 

But for now the roar of ancient water showers us all
with peace,
and an eroding, evanescent beauty. 

--------------------------------------------------(rhonda) 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Le Tres Riches Heures




There’s something astonishing about
reading these geese overhead—
airborne musicians scribing transient maxims
into a sunset of lapis and purest gold.  

Monday, October 3, 2011

True Friends


Each friend sends up a beacon light
to guide me home on a straight path

Your song, in my ear or in my heart, pulls me
into the feathered nest of belief and trust.

The memory of our time together, soon or late,
transmutes any pain into a reason for life.

Someone said it takes ten thousand efforts to get it right,
to learn perfection.  I remember our ten thousand and first joke,

our ten thousand and first laugh, our ten thousand and first
peaceful silence.  Your life is a temple, dear friend. 

My prayers soar up from here.

 -------------------------------------------------------(rhonda)


Saturday, October 1, 2011

For my fellow wanderers

for my fellow wanderers, 
 wondering if they will ever latch onto 
one true thing...


(you are the true thing.)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Flu season


Delighting in sunlit moments,
I would grow into a large and languorous beast
were it not for my visitor, this blessed and most vexing virus.

Oh dear virus, you give me gifts of vagueness and lassitude.
You give me gifts of irritation and inflammation.
Snot’s not your only offering but also challenge and answer.

White cells battle with viral invaders. Tiny life is lost on my behalf. 
Here is another (another!) lesson on the inner struggle
and I wipe metaphor from a reddened nose.

I enter the day with heat, joy and hacking cough.
I am taught again that food is simply sustenance--
learn that both health and sickness are obscuring veils.

I pray today for all those who are well, that they may not languish.
From my nest of crumpled tissue I pray that I may respond as valiantly
as my white cells—
—as the least of my humble white cells—
to this vast world of woe.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------(rhonda)

Monday, September 26, 2011

My child, preparing for surgery.

Your transgendered body will move as gracefully as ever,
hands molding time into beautiful moments.
Your grey eyes, brightening with hope,
will still spill light into dark corners.
The road ahead of you unwinds in the same rambling fashion.

The road behind is quiet now, but traces of you
                           have shaped this landscape forever.
Some things change.
Some things stay the same.


----------------------------------------------------(mo8m)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Note

Life is the only way
to get covered in leaves,
catch your breath on the sand,
rise on wings;

to be a dog,
or stroke its warm fur;

to tell pain
from everything it's not;

to squeeze inside events, dawdle in views,
to seek the least of all possible mistakes.

An extraordinary chance
to remember for a moment
a conversation held
with the lamp switched off;

and if only once
to stumble upon a stone,
end up soaked in one downpour or another,

mislay your keys in the grass;
and to follow a spark on the wind with your eyes;
and to keep on not knowing
something important.

                  (Wislawa Szymborska)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Double Helix

The Double Helix nebula, located near our own galactic center

I lie in the nest of the easy chair, babe asleep on chest,
his warm heaviness seeps into my core
making my arms heavy with joy,
weighing down my eyes with joy,
filling up my heart with joy.
Here is a little boy on my body,
never in it but borne from it nonetheless.
Nearby my daughter sleeps after her long ordeal—
her deep familiarity easing into eyes and heart.
I hold what is from her
but is not her.  I hold what is from me but is not me.
We nestle together neath the warmth of a westering sun—
and I am from that sun but am not myself a sun.
My heart bears heat from the very core of that yellow star,
bears light from its light, but is not that star.
This child of my child is also a child of that sun.
Together we lie comfortably in the world, in this chair,
waiting patiently for the sun to set,
for other stars to fill the warm night air.

-------------------------------------------------------(rhonda)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Character



Stendhal said, "One can acquire everything in solitude except character."

Character lives in the spaces between us. 
When plunged into the texture of faces—the smell of others—
our character is molded and carved;
is struck, stymied, woven, wondered.

In crowds we experience the numinous firsthand. 
No need to question the miracle of infinity: it is before you. 
No need to force gratitude from a miasma of loneliness— 
gratitude is on the menu at dinner. 

Separate universes—wholly other—
Friends may look familiar
but they bring us to our knees time and again.
They condone, condemn, digress and dismay.

They steal our gold, then donate their last dime.
They heal our wounds and sustain our hearts as we die. 
They slap us down and raise us up.
‘Midst them we are builded.  Gilded.  Filled with holiness.  Given life.

------------------------------------------------------------(rhonda)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I Know They Never Once Thought About Me Sitting in Their Future

Rain hammers the metal roof of my porch.
Lightning arcs toward a nearby copse of trees
and thunder drums, shaking cars, setting off alarms.
Outside my humble shelter, grey squirrel
hangs motionless, upside-down on wet maple.
He blends perfectly with maple bark,
leaving me to wonder at the mimicry of nature
and the tenacity of small squirrels
hanging upside down on wet trees.
Sipping my tea I consider the native people,
                 the first people,
wondering what their homes looked like on this spot were I sit—
considering the warm drinks they sipped during storms such as this.
Sassafras?  Spruce needles?
Wondering if small children sat with a tent flap
open to rain and thunder, laughing and wondering
at the sight of grey squirrels hanging upside-down on trees.

-----------------------------------------------------------(rhonda)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

In honor of today. Paul Simon's Wartime Prayer

Changing views in healthcare (NOT a poem!)


I heard a grieving father talk last month on NPR about experiences with a miscarriage.  He spoke of the lack of ritual for such events, and how he and his wife lived through this difficult time.  This caused me to think on death and inevitability and societal norms.  Why, I wondered, had death become so separate from our daily lives?  I knew the when: it was about the same time as the establishment of the American Medical Association, and their monopoly on health care.  We now take their expertise for granted.  Over the past hundred years illness and death have moved away from the family home into cleaner settings.  Mortality rates have dropped precipitously for many diseases and ages.  Expectations of cure have escalated.  

But why were we so eager to give away our intimate knowledge of death?  That may be the easiest of all questions to answer:  We are really tired, as a species, of dying.  It just sucks.   “It is a fearful thing to love what death can touch,” said the anonymous poet and we are exhausted by fear. 

It is my considered opinion, as a hospice nurse and poet, that the pendulum of reliance on healthcare to have the answer to all our ills may start to swing back, may have already reached the top of its arc and may be ready to head the other way.  We see it in the easier acceptance on the part of doctors that they may need to call in the hospice team.   We see it in the numbers of families calling hospice instead of remaining in a healthcare setting where they would die among people and machines whose sole purpose is to postpone the inevitable. These people aren’t requesting assistance to die.  They want to let nature take its course and they want to be surrounded by love. They want to go home in more than one way.

There are many things that medicine can do, chiefest of which is to prevent disease.  We have not effectively used medicine for that purpose, however, as in a capitalist society we find that money is to be made in greater quantities by illness than it is by health.  Big pharma, hospitals, diagnostic labs and yes, many physicians, are reimbursed at higher rates and for longer periods of time for long term, chronic illness than they are for preventing such illness through education.  Big money days may be at an end though, just as the polar ice cap is about at an end.  The poor, the elderly and the underinsured will no longer be invited to the Chronic Illness Party.  They (we) will be dying at home more often.  Death will find its way into our neighborhoods.  Our relatives will be dying comfortably at home cared for by us.  Our children will not grow up believing that death is always accompanied by car chases and heavy gun fire.  Young people and their aging parents will once again have conversations about end of life wishes and legacies.  We may re-establish rituals to help us survive our grief—perhaps black armbands will come back in vogue to mark us as a people apart, returning to life again after death has come one inevitable step closer.  

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

One Life to Live by Billy Collins




This is the only life I have, this one in my head,
the one that travels along the surface of my body
singing the low voltage song of the ego,


the one that feels like a ball between my ears
sometimes, and other times feels absolutely galactic,



the life that my feet carry around like two blind
scholars working together on a troublesome manuscript.



This is the only life I have, and I am standing
dead in the centre of it, like a man doing a rope trick
in a rodeo, passing the lasso over his body
smiling inside a twirling of ovals and ellipses.



This is the only life I have and I never step out of it
except to follow a character down the alleys of a novel,
or when love makes me want to remove my clothes
and sail classical records off a cliff.



Otherwise you can always find me within this hoop of myself,
the rope flying around me, moving up to encircle my head
like an equator or a halo or a zero.