November 07, 2006

A little of this, a little of that

Well, I sent off a selection of poems to Field Magazine, a very well-thought of poetry review out of Oberlin College in Cleveland...I don't expect to be accepted but I can dream! Also, I sent a query letter and ten poems to Graywolf Press, at my agent's advising, re the possibility of their publishing a poetry manuscript of mine. Again, a longshot, but I might have a chance, given my history and what I write about, schizophrenia being rather unique subject matter and experience for a published book of poetry (though of course I don't write exclusively about SZ by any means, but as Dr O says, it informs everything I do write, just as anyone's life history informs her writing).

I saw my primary care doc today for two reasons, one was to have an EKG because of potential drug interactions of the antibiotics and Haldol and Geodon. Luckily everything was fine, as I suspected it would be, since I've been taking this combination now for months. For some reason the pharmacist suddenly found the supposed interaction and decided he wouldn't release the meds until the doctors made sure all was well, though he should have found the interaction well before this, wouldn't you think? Anyhow, the other reason was because the infectious disease doc does regular bloodwork every time I see him and the October labs showed that my liver enzymes were elevated. When I was in the hospital this past summer, they were elevated then too, but gradually came back down to normal. So everyone decided I had ingested something toxic at home and that my liver healed once away from it in hospital...But what is going on now? I dunno -- I certainly do not "ingest toxic materials", not knowingly. I eat very very carefully and well. A very balanced and healthy diet in fact, probably better than most people's if limited in quantity. And the meds are the same as in the bin, where the enzymes went to normal. So whatever is going on, it doesn't seem to be either my diet or my medications. Welp, I feel fine, so I assume it ain't anything terribly wrong, though he's testing me for hepatitis just to be sure, then will be watching to see what the levels do. We'll see. Presumably they will fall to normal, just as they did before! BD

I wrote two new poems, both of which I hope are more accessible than the last four. One is for Cy's birthday this Wednesday and the other is about Joe and me and discusses what I imagine the future may bring. It takes some careful reading to follow the twists and turns, but in the end says what it says, and has no hidden meanings. The line "the good night he won't join gentle" is a reference to the villanelle, "Do not go gentle into that good night" by Dylan Thomas, where "that good night" obviously means death. If you don't know the piece, it is well worth looking up, a famous, and worthy of it, poem. But here are mine:


Your love is but a candle now, burning
at Shabbat, one of your son’s perhaps,
wax poured into a small glass around a wick,
no more, yet with staying power to burn
for weeks on end, just as you burned
for decades, never going out in your devotion
to your one love, for all the many loves
you had and shared came out of that one first,
last and forever love that graced your heart
and opened it and opened it until love
overflowed and you had so much
what could you do but give it away?
You gave much to me, once a stranger rocking
alone on a chair, knowing no one and expecting
to stay alone in that way. When you introduced
yourself, said you prayed like that, davening,
and asked me who I was I was alarmed at first –
for who was I? What was I but a schizophrenic,
on disability, with nothing to offer but my loneliness?
I offered my name and the fact that I’d come
with my lawyer friend, B. So was I
a lawyer too? you asked, as if a serious question,
to me so far from reality I had to smile:
No, I write poetry, I confessed in shame...
Oh, but that’s where possibilities
entered the picture, in poems, for you, it seemed
wrote poetry too, and wanted to share. Soon
we had decades for that, and for lunches
and hospitals after hospitals, and walks
and talks and the comic relief of inevitable teasing,
one-way, because you could dish it but never swallow.
Now you are 87, twenty-one years my friend,
my friend, and we gather here to celebrate..
Deaf as a pole, and your aids not in,
will you hear me if I shout it in your ear:
Thank you Cy, for the little candle, the one you lit in my life,
for lifting my bushel too that my own light might shine.
I am poor, I have nothing. I offer you this poem.
By the light of a candle, I sign it:
with all my love, Pam


Both schizophrenic, you watch his every move
being awkward, clumsy, for signs of slowing,
weakness the cardinal symptom of the second hand
he’s been handed at the too young middle age
of fifty, fearful of choking episodes and falls,

of losses unprepared for in your unexpected absence
at a time when he for once needs you most,
wanting no shoe to drop that you can’t catch
and re-tie, desperate to keep him this side
of where the doctors say such illness “invariably”

leads, the good night he won’t join gentle.
But your own illness, that hand, is too much
in the way in such ways that interfere
and intersect with the care you wish
you could give: the casual touch that still feels

invasive given, received, is swallowed but festers;
the unforgotten trauma of suctioned mucus
and uncontrollable coughing. If only
you were a different person you would be
a different person and more capable, happy to

do it all. Now all you want is to catch the second shoe.
For he is Huck, unquenchably on meds content
unable to look at living and see blues,
ruined choirs of hope, broken wishes, tragedy--
no, it all interests, all of it a source, a font

to fascinate the mind, as well eyes and ears,
which he says will be enough to tether him
to life when his body, unmoored from his brain
and paralyzed, no longer moves a muscle,
his mind left sharp as white Wisconsin cheddar,

still ravenous to know what’s up and coming
in the mobile world that would move past him,
but for his drive to counter clockwise time,
to dip his hands into an icy flowing stream
and cup the future in his palms.

Posted by pamwagg at November 7, 2006 04:18 PM


It is so exciting that you're sending out poems. Good luck!

Posted by: Samantha at November 8, 2006 12:19 AM

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