Sunday, May 18, 2014

opalescent images

Minority, Me

5/ 12/ 14

Location, location, location. That's what they say right? As to where you want to set up shop, as to where you want to rest your head at the end of a hard day, as to where you want to end-up when you stumble and fall in the men's room. I can speak to the first two as well as most, I imagine; however, I can't imagine not being in the minority of those who can speak to the third.

Location: high traffic area, safe part of town.
Location: low traffic area, safe part of town.
Location: low traffic area.

Following a 7:30 MRI in the old wing, my wife and I make the 10 minute, often grueling (for her) trek to the nearer (to civilization) wing where my neuro- oncologist holds court on the 5th floor; this for an 8:30 appointment to interpret the opalescent images ne'er-do-welling inside my skull. My MRI had gone smoothly and quickly. We were making great time. No rush.

We exited the elevator and I requested a pitstop at the immediately adjacent to themen's room. I put the brakes on my wheels, grunt myself to my feet, look both ways (now your basic pedestrian), and take up my cane for what should be a relatively pedestrian visit to the john.

To make a short story shorter: I did what I came to do, about-faced, and proceeded toward the sink to wash my hands as good citizens will and then, as bad walkers are prone, I tripped on my lagging left foot. It was one of those slow-motion instances. As I went floor-ward, I sensed mine was an exquisite swan-fall, imbued with grace and elegance. As the left side of my face, obeying all applicable laws of physics, caromed off sink's countertop, I was disabused of any such sense.

Wince but don't weep, empathic reader. I came to rest in a low traffic area--a location which is theoretically the most prime of all the men's room real-estate . . . floor-wise.


Well Hi Dee Ho and Lah Tee Da

Cringe but don't cry, sensitive souls.  I came to rest at a hospital--a pretty choice spot . . . bodily injury-wise. Within a minute (although I'm not entirely sure, I had just taken a non-malleable, immovable bit of architecture to head), a knowledgable orderly, a knowledgeable nurse, a concerned citizen, and two of my hyper-knowledgeable nurse practitioners. After all, we were about a hundred yards away from my doctor so I was in good hands, even better when the paramedics arrived. Neck braced, body prodded. Brief biography provided upon request: name, DOB. Location? Kirklin Clinic. Located at? UAB hospital. Precisely? Bathroom floor.

Giggle but don't guffaw, peanut gallery. Low traffic area. Pretty exclusive neighborhood.

Beyond that . . . a bonus. A record breaker-- if not to be entered into Guinness'  book (they've been contacted) then logged in my personal annals--shortest ambulance ride, as the crow flies . . . about a hundred yards away.

So short was the distance I needed to travel that just as soon as I had been boarded, gurneyed, hoisted, situated, oxygenated, re-quizzed, transported, admitted, braceleted, transferred, asleep, back-to- sleep, discharged, wheeled, elevated, recepted, checked-in . . . whiz bang, toot sweet . . . I was meeting with my doctor not four hours later in our usual location.


The Upshot

According to my doctor and MRI images, there were no new tumors nor old ones asking for elbow room; and even though my list of expressed clinical concerns (worsening confusion, memory, vision, etc.) was pretty exhaustive (and it occurs to me just now that a particularly prominent issue went unmentioned--my very recent face-splonk and subsequent brief hospital stay) my Avastin and chemo course will continue and, if it maintains its current success, conceivably be suspended after two more rounds.  At which point, we'll go back to the medicate and monitor dance-- a turn for the pleasanter considering my present yarksome state.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

in which dollar tree is exalted

This Is What It Looks Like When Doves Die

3/ 30/14

I've seen a lot in my days, but not these.
Best, I see my crosswords propped on a thigh,
My thigh, don't get me wrong. My femur twig,
A mighty easel for a figurer

Of the grandiose. Worst, I see the girls
In tights sampling toothpick teriyaki.
Don't get me wrong, they are in between
The middle-distance menu

And me. I leer at middle distances
Apparently and ogle stir-fried rice.
These days--through a squint diffuser,
Through otiose spectacles equipped

With dark glass for UV susceptible
Eyes like these blue beauties of mine,
My onion mourners, lascivious
And blind. Don't get me wrong; I am not blind.

I see clues as well as anyone,
I detect yens to simply be seen.

My vision. Sometimes contributive, sometimes deleterious. Though probably not needing an un- rhymed quasi-sonnet for a journal introduction, it is getting more pitiful. When contributive, it is actually integral. Otherwise even my lurching days would be over. Gone, those halcyon days of only almost falling every time I put my worst foot forward. As for making it to the Olive Garden restroom all by my big boy lonesome, arrivederci.  

My cane keeps me upright. My hands keep me steady. My vision, though undeniably pitiful, keeps me in the bipedaling game. Whether by scootch or sidle, as long as I can see the cobblestone below by the gas lamp above, I'll see you in the middle distance.

When deleterious, my vision fibs. It says, "The handrail is hip-high. Use it. Reach. Relax."

A dove alights on a wire in the far distance.

Nearer, The Dollar Tree beckons, "Come feast your eyes on my  wares. Walk in wanting, walk around
needing, walk out set for life."

A second dove alights on the wire in the far distance.

I stumble and catch myself by my funny-bone, exclusively. My vision snickers [King Size, $1, come feast, Regular Size, $1, come do alright by yourself], "I said hip, didn't I? Would you believe I meant to say thigh-high?"

The first dove dies, plummets from the wire in the far distance; the second dove dies, plummets. Two falling lovers veering for each other. Birds of a feather fluttering together. Wings merge. A  pair of full breasts in mythic tandem. They rise, fly toward me from a now reasonable distance. I arise, my funny bone still quite the comedian. They are one, majestic plurality of Being, now in the middle distance becoming . . . oh, nope, just one, that first one, I guess . . . yep, yep, a little iffy around the edges . . . but yes no, a fat, singular scat machine gearing up over my head.

My vision comes clean [42oz Prell, $1, Salmonella-B-Gone, $1, Sackful of snackable Snickers, $ 1], "I'm sorry, but that was good, you should have seen yourself."


4/ 6/ 14 

My drool.

Sometimes in thin, translucent bungees. Sometimes in meandering rillets.

I'll move on but suffice it to say: Ponce may have missed the fountain of youth, but I've stumbled into the one of decrepitude.

[Don’t picture this as incessant, it's mostly just when laying down and only from corner; I’ll let you when a cascade simile becomes more accurate.]

A Golden Opportunity for Velcro  

4/ 28/ 14

I lost my wallet on Friday. Because I left the house. On Saturday, I was none the wiser. Because I rarely leave the house on consecutive days. I left the house on Sunday so became wise to the missing wallet. Because to leave the house is to conceivably need my credit or debit cards, but  I'm nearly always with someone in possession of identical ones to those. I'm much less likely to need my insurance card and less likely still to need my driving license because I've ridden on an ambulance a time or two more than I've driven a car in the last couple of years.

Sunday, Monday--some the wiser, none the richer.  A sprawling, educated search availed not.  A delimited (cards would have to be cancelled soon) yet more focused search prospered not.

But, around here, hope springs temporal.  Because last week I lost an upright bottle of balsamic vinaigrette under my chin. Directly. As in, if anyone had asked me after I asked them if I had just asked them if anyone had seen where I put the balsamic vinaigrette I might have nodded and knocked the bottle flat with my chin at which point it would have been under my nose. Directly. As in . . .

So, around here, maybe hope springs ephemeral; but we don't often lose it, and I'm holding it out for my wallet.

Well and good. The cards had to be cancelled which brings me seamlessly to my key topic. My speech's recognizability as human on the telephone.  I have spoken on the phone as many times in the last 36.5 hours as I have in the last 365 days. As my pinch (and lovely, of course) phone-talker, my wife tried to cancel the cards and have new ones issued; but she could only lay the groundwork I would have to supply the permit. Name, date of birth, home address, last four of social, affirmative to yes or no question, "you're welcome and thank you, too."

Recognizably human and in almost as discernibly English as the middle-Asian gentleman being of service to me at Capitol One, if I dare say so myself. And I did and I am none the wiser, richer, or fluenter; however, I will soon be one stiff new wallet the prouder, and one glistening new photo-ID the hilariouser.

Sunday, May 4, 2014


[An offering composed solely in epigraphs; before you applaud my diligence, know that I stockpile these things with a view to borrow them when one might buoy or bolster my own work somewhere down the line. I have tried to approximate a typical journal entry with respect to overall theme and semi-cohesiveness within the post itself—the former being a tinge gloomy, the latter being hit and miss. Either way, it's a stretch. Sources at the end.]

“Are You Done With That and May I Use It?”

2/ 29/ 14

Mysterious Preamble:

My friends, we had a hard time as youths; we suffered from youth itself as though it were a serious disease <1> Art is sad and/ life is vapid [but] can we thumb/ our nose at the very sea? <2>. It seems to [me] that life [is] immeasurably long.  Couldn’t the test of man [be] carried out in fewer years?  Couldn’t we commit our first major sin at seven . . . ruin ourselves for love or hate at ten . . . [clutch at redemption] on a fifteen- year-old death-bed?  <3>

Tiptoe Into Topic:

Having had to encounter single-handed during [my] period of eclipse many physical dangers, [I] was aware of the most dangerous element common to them all: of the crushing, paralyzing sense of human littleness, which is what really defeats a man struggling with natural forces, alone, far from the eyes of [my] fellows. <4>

Have you ever hoped so much it hurt, literally hurt like . . . like bruised ribs, and then, finally, letting go and the air comes rushing in, and you can breathe so never mind hope because at least you can breathe?

Never had bruised ribs?

Well they hurt and it’s hard to breathe. <5>

I do not know what you are supposed to do with memories like these. It feels wrong to want to forget. Perhaps this is why we write these things down, so we can move on. <6>

I wanted the moments of my life to follow each other and order themselves like those of a life remembered.  I might as well try to catch time by the tail.  <7>  But that’s always the way with looking back. You either  . . . come to terms with the madness of living a life at random or treat
the concatenation of all your yesterdays as a lifelong strand of nonsense. <8> 

It is not [me] the novelist and me the poet, but one man interpreting life as emotion. <9> All [I can do is] hope . . . eat, sleep and cringe before [my] omens. <10>


Your eyes, too,  must be readjusted , for/ Here people, owl-like, see only by dark, and grope by day. <11> “The world,” she thought, “is full of beautiful things, if only I could come across them.” <12> 

[But] in a world that contains the present moment why discriminate? Let it exist, this bank this beauty, and I, for one instant, steeped in pleasure . The sun is hot. I see the river. I see trees specked and burnt in the autumn light… far away a bell tolls, but not for death. There are bells that ring for life. <13> Here undoubtedly lies the chief poetic energy:--in the force of imagination that . . . exalts the solid fact, instead of floating among cloud pictures. <14>


I live . . . that is to say . . . [have] not yet died—in a ruinous place. <15>  When my path was drenched with cream and the rock poured out for me streams of olive oil . . . <16>  all day, I wandered in the glittering metaphor/ for which I could find no referent. <17>

Spade plucked his cigarette from between his lips. <18> ‘In the mountains the shortest way is from peak to peak . . .’

‘. . . but for that route thou must have long legs . . . <19> [to] discover if there is anything to be got at last for the said grim and time-bang’d conch.’

‘I don’t believe it or disbelieve it, [Jonathan].  I don’t know a damned thing about it.’ <20>


To be occupied or conquered is nothing—to remain is all. --Anne Sexton
The shadow whose lack you feel . . . Friday’s tongue. – J.M. Coetzee
Nothing is so mute as a god’s mouth.  – Rainer Maria Rilke

O God, stop frightening me with your terrors. -- Job
Whether for misery or joy -- D. H. Lawrence
When I’m dead, know . . . . I’ve kissed and cried over this. -- Charles Darwin

Pithy Conclusion/ Magical Reprisal

We are oppressed at being humans, humans with our own real bodies and blood; we are ashamed of it, we think it a disgrace, and we keep trying to be some sort of fairy-tale universal beings <21> -- the chief poetic energy . . . floating among cloud[s]. <22>

Works Borrowed From:

<1> Nietzsche, Friedrich. The Will to Power.
<2> O’Hara, Frank.“Night Thoughts in Greenwich Village” Collected Poems.
<3> Greene, Graham. The Heart of the Matter.
<4> Conrad, Joseph. Almayer's Folly. 
<5> Me. The Gist of Elijah. 
<6> Jones, Lloyd. Mister Pip.
<7> Jean-Paul, Sartre. Truth and Existence.
<8> Me. The Gist of Elijah.
<9> Moore, Marianne. “Picking and Choosing”.
<10> Bowles, Paul. The Sheltering Sky.
<11> Warren, Robert Penn. “Inevitable Frontier” The Collected Poems.
<12> Forster, E. M. A Room With a View.
<13> Woolf, Virginia. The Waves.
<14> Eliot, George. Daniel Deronda.
<15> Dickens, Charles. Bleak House.
<16> Job 29:6
<17> Robert Penn, Warren. “Time as Hypnosis”.
<18> Hammet, Dashiell. The Maltese Falcon.
<19> Nietzsche, Friedrich. Thus Spoke Zarathustra.
<20> Hammet, Dashiell. The Maltese Falcon.
<21> Dostoevsky, Fyodor. Notes From the Underground.
<22> Eliot, George. Daniel Deronda.