common cold

1 post

Poems About Sickness

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.


Head Cold
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
Lascaux, itching,

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.