Rehabilitation Ward II
4 September 2k11
“Poetry surrounds us everywhere, but putting it on paper is, alas, not so easy as looking at it.” ~Vincent van Gogh
“Every where I go, I find a Poet has been there before me.” ~Sigmund Freud
This Journal, though I don’t post often, has been a labor of love; one that constantly calls me back to it…as a lighthouse beckons safe anchorage, or a Siren song amidst the waves, lures a ship to founder on the rocks.
My desire has been to create a haven of hope and empathy in the darkness of digital void.
And to that high-reaching aim I occasionally fail utterly; however, sometimes the right poem will find the right person. It changes how they perceive themselves, and the very world around them, both subtly and profoundly. When that happens it is among the most satisfying experiences for any poet—one that leaves us feeling deeply grateful for the opportunity to peer beyond the Veil of Life and share what we have found.
As a Poet, speaking to the soul of another human being is far more than a calling: it is an honor, a privilege, and I truly feel it is also a responsibility to emblazon our existence rather than cast shadows upon it. This is what we poets live for: not fame, nor glory, nor riches. But to touch the hearts of others, and perhaps help them find a path through this life.
This poem is dedicated here to Teeka Ballas, a friend who has been a brilliant inspiration to me. She is a person who gives all of herself to help others find their creative voice. Friend, confidant, editor, and a gentle yet firm goad to keep working, keep digging for my truth. In so many ways she has helped bring out the best in me, as I deal with physical disability, and mental illness, all the while forging ahead as a Poet. For that, I will be grateful to the end of my days. Here then is a poem she loves. I would also like to thank Bruce Farnsworth; an old friend who is both a gifted poet, and insightful editor. A true Wordsmith, Bruce cleaved this poem with one inspired strike into a work of beauty that I can be both humble and proud to set before you.
It is also a poem based upon true events in my life. Parts of it may be disturbing to you, Dear Reader…but then, so is life. Among our mandates as artists is to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.
I wrote it in the glare of unflinching honesty, composed while still in hospital. I finished it with the dream that those who also suffer from the terrible isolation and pain that comes with disability may find some solace, and freedom from despair.
Rehabilitation Ward II: Jose
Nurse Practitioner of the Dayshift,
Jose told the story of He versus Car.
His trauma was a debilitating hit and run:
They put cables and long screws in his head.
They put needles in his arms,
wires on his chest, and a tube in his penis.
Matter of factly, Jose said that he could hardly move.
Sunlight inundated room 718
of Jackson Memorial Hospital—
illuminated every flinching detail
lit every swarming corner
where things that eat pain lurk in the daytime.
Jose stood, stripping the bed of its foulness.
Washed in morning light, his golden-caramel face
was solemnly composed. He spoke
as he worked, glancing across to me
occasionally, where I fidgeted
uneasy in my wheelchair.
(when I stop paying attention to them)
constantly seek the scar where beneath tight,
fragile stitches, rough against my fingers,
they burned out a tiny piece of my brain;
the brainskin where they grafted a piece of someone
who, having died, donated to me a priceless gift.
his too shrewd eyes lighting upon me,
measuring with care, Jose picked up the thread
of his story. He spoke of how he hated
the Asian Man washing his ass and jewels
after an enema. He spoke of walking at last:
with the long screws still in his head;
of shuddering down a cold hall, the cables snaking
away beside him; the tube trailing from his penis
and the iv pole straggling next to him,
small wheels squeaking.
of walking alone to the bathroom one night
of how he fell to the floor,
bouncing hard, bouncing halo
of screws and shocking pain.
Jose said, “The key to running
is to have the will to keep walking.”
He spoke then of lying on the floor
with iv pole askew, its precious cargo scattered.
Jose’s hands, everworking, paused.
His eyes—hard, black marbles
glazed over with distant memory.
He spoke of the hated Asian Man
lifting him gentle from the floor.
How he wept.