In the northeast, flu is running at a fevered-pitch with the highest rates we’ve seen in years. Luckily, I’m only dealing with the oh-so-common cold, but it’s slowed me down with its favored weapon, the sinus headache.
So instead of some deep, thoughtful, controversial, mind-provoking (all right, enough with the thesaurus) post, today I offer up a poem from my first collection, The Indifferent World.
It’s about the brothers common and cold when they stay too long, and you know what Mark Twain (or was it Ben Franklin? Or was it Confucius?) once said about guests: Like fish, they begin to stink after three days.
by Ken Craft
The head stands amazed,
harboring labyrinths of lead,
Minotaur of mucus
struggling to ford rivers
that forgot their flow.
Mythical horns scratch
glyphs across the sinal
yearning for escape
through impassable passages:
eyes branched in red
lightning, nose non-negotiable,
mouth agog and dug dry
with rhythmic rushes of air.
Whew. I am impressed with my allusions (Lascaux? Really?) and especially my vocabulary (I’m looking up “glyphs” again even as I type). But I get the idea. The head is occupied by some virus, and the virus is making itself feel at home, too, like some squatter acting with impunity (get the Oscar ready).
The question is, does writing about sickness make one feel better? It forces you to think about your malady–and all the evidence is at hand (or in the head) for material to write about, so I say yes. No, it’s not a cure, but it’s a mighty distractor, and distraction is a popular thing these days (see House comma White on the front pages).
Conclusion: If you’re feeling ill, write about it. Then sanitize the keyboard, won’t you? It’s only polite.
Unlike major publishing houses, small, independent publishers have no marketing budget to speak of, so they depend upon word-of-mouth enthusiasm among their readers. If you are a poetry reader, help keep the word-of-mouth buzz rolling for Lost Sherpa of Happiness by visiting Amazon for a copy today. According to Mark Twain (and Benjamin Franklin), it’s pretty damn good!
14 thoughts on “Poems About Sickness”
Good idea to write about it and I’ve done it, too, though maybe not often enough. I like yours. And here’s my favorite headache poem.
by Sarah Sloat
The magnificent is so yesterday
we hardly look at it anymore.
The luminous ruin of the ocean: a shipwreck in itself.
I would like to tumble from the house into a clarity
of pear trees, walk from wood
to rot to squalor.
That storyline does not get old.
I would like desire to come to me
because I can not
go to it, not in this condition.
Published in Mead: The Magazine of Literature & Libations, Volume 8 (Fall 2014)
No longer online. 🙁
Thanks for sharing, Toni. And I (virtually) know Sarah, too! An expat in Germany with a talent for writing!
My contribution to the Literature of Sickness:
I sleep in my son’s bed,
his comforter billowing
over me like meringue,
the poems of Che Guevara
under my pillow.
When my wife comes home,
she lets the dog in,
the dog who loves me
unconditionally. What did
Che call his apolitical friends?
Drunks, singing, their throats
about to be cut. The dog
loves me for myself, morose,
apolitical, the tang of penicillin
on my skin & he scuttles
down the hall, wondering
where I am, finally
wriggling the comforter
aside & draping himself
over my head like
someone’s flung beret.
Very nice. And a cameo by Che, yet, making it iconic!
Ken, I’m nothing if not aware of marketing the iconic!
“Fish and visitors stink in three days.”. – Benjamin Franklin
Ha! I knew it was one of those. Or good ole Anon. Thanks!
I have a shingles poem, but it hasn’t been published, so I’m keeping it to myself. I’m generally uninspired to write even a blog entry when I’m ill. Kudos for doing that much.
Thank God I’ve dodged shingles (except when up on the roof). We are the chicken pox generation, no?
Yes, as were the generations before us. A lot of my friends had it while too young for the vaccine. I had the vaccine, but my doctor assures me I’d have felt a whole lot worse without it.
We’ll take Doc’s word for it (we usually do…).
I had a shingles vaccine, thank god(dess)!