I Name You Fear . . and other poetic responses to the last Wednesday Writing Prompt

Michael Ancher, “The Sick Girl”, 1882, Statens Museum for Kunst / Public domain photograph courtesy of Michael Peter Ancher

“Kleitos, a likeable young man,
about twenty-three years old
with a first-class education, a rare knowledge of Greek
is seriously ill. He caught the fever
that reaped a harvest this year in Alexandria.”
Kleitos’ Illness, Constantine P. Cavafy



Of special note:

  • Please don’t miss Iron Wind, Zimbabwean poet in exile Mbizo Chirasha’s response to the current prompt. An explanation for its solitary publication is included in the post.
  • Wisconsin poet, DeWitt Clinton, wrote, “I’ve visited many hospital rooms over the years, and occasionally, I was a patient. I’m always drawn to Sylvia Plath’s poem about her stay in a hospital following a surgical procedure.”  I didn’t have enough time to get Harper Collins’ permission to publish Tulips today. You can read it in its entirety HERE.
  • Irene Emmanuel and Diana Lundell, if you have sites or Amazon pages to which you’d like me to link, email the links to me at thepoetbyday@gmail.com

Today I am pleased to present the responses to the last Wednesday Writing Prompt, At the Beginning of the Pandemic, March 11, in which Michael Dickel asked poets to ponder: “How to bring illness (personal or pandemic) of the ailing body, pain, and language to point to culture, philosophy, and consciousness in poetry that also points ‘…to what is still to be learned about our fragility, our mortality, and how to live a meaningful life’? Especially at this cultural-historical moment of an emerging pandemic?” The result is a journey through a spectrum of experiences and perspectives.

The poets who contributed to this collection are: Paul Brookes, Jamie Dedes, Irene Emanual, Joe Hesch, Diana Lundell, Sonja Benskin Mesher, Nancy Ndeke, Bozhidar Pangelov (bogpan), Corina Ravenscraft, RedCat, and Clarissa Simmens. Joe Hesch, Diana Lundell, and RedCat are new to Wednesday Writing Prompt and warmly welcome.

Please do come out to play tomorrow for the next Wednesday Writing Prompt, All are welcome: beginning, emerging, and pro.

Stay safe and healthy,

Warmly,
Jamie


As I write this, my daughter is watching a YouTube live stream lesson. The Ministry of Education streams a lesson to all first graders from 9–9:30 each school morning. My son is working on tasks and following links posted on this class web page. At 11 am the fourth graders, his class, will have their half-hour live-streamed lesson. I have a moment to write while they work, before I leave for an “essential” appointment, which will likely be my last meeting this week. Later, I will go to the grocery store to pick up three or four things we are running low on. I’ll probably notice a couple of other things to get, just in case. The people I see and I will try to maintain a distance of two meters. Yesterday I went for a walk, just to get out of the house. The sun was warm, so I sat on a bench with my iPad and answered some emails. Those of us out kept our distance, but more than usual we made eye-contact, greeted each other, wished each other good health.

Welcome to COVID-19 time. I think that it is important to make eye contact, to acknowledge each other, especially as we make wide arcs around each other. I think it is important too keep our connections, even across distance. And this is something poetry does. Here, we offer the week’s responses to my prompt on writing poems about illness (personal to global) and pandemic, creating a literature that points to culture and meaning in the time of COVID-19.

We have amazing and strong responses. They range from cancer to COVID-19 pandemic panic syndrome, from personal to observational. The language is strong. The poems succeed in doing what Ann Jurecic, (Illness as Narrative: Composition, Literacy, and Culture, p. 131)  “…all point to what is still to be learned about our fragility, our mortality, and how to live a meaningful life.…”

In this COVID-19 time, please do your best to stay healthy. Support your community as you can, especially in helping to prevent spread, but also by catching a distant eye, nodding, smiling, saying “Shalom, manishma?” (Peace, how are you?) And wish them, “Libryut” “to (your) health.” Social distance need not be without connections.

Shalom, how are you? To (y)our health!

—Michael (Meta/ Poor(e) /Play)


The Virus

On my till
An old lady flinches when I touch
Her handing her change.

Boss is stockpiling anti-bac wipes.
Wash your hands as often as you can
As money is the dirtiest of things.

Anti-bac wipe your touch screen,
And where folk lift up the fridge doors,
And the price strips.

Toilet rolls are disappearing.
It dissipates the virus,
While it rests on other surfaces.

Folk avoid public bannisters,
Walk down the middle.
That old woman’s flinch
Stays in my mind.

© 2020, Paul Brookes

My Caladrius

All white bird a ghost who stares intently
into my jaundiced eye,

then flies towards sunblaze
where it sweats all my illness
in droplets to the earth.

If the bird looks away
this disease succeeds.

Some healthy hide the bird
under their coat,
refuse to offer it
with the thought
nobody gets owt for free.

Some say the bird is a saviour.
Some put faith in fleeting things.

Originally published in the Blue Mountain Review

© 2020, Paul Brookes

Disease Is A Gift

It was really cool to see who could get
illest first, cos you’d like get all this fuss.
My bestest mate Rhianna, reporters interviewed her, and she’d be on the news.

And folk who felt sorry for her gave
her lots of money so she could go
to Disney in America and have
the most expensive doctors,

and like, get well, but she didn’t,
and they wouldn’t let me see her,
said she was too ill, and then
she died and I cried a lot,

she wasn’t on the news anymore
but to me she was even famouser.

Except from Paul’s collection A World Where (Nixes Mate Press, 2017)

© 2017, Paul Brookes 

Paul’s site is The Wombwell Rainbow
Paul’s Amazon Page U.S. HERE
Paul’s Amazon Page U.K.
HERE

More poems by Paul at Michael Dickel’s Meta/ Phore(e) /Play


Lockdown

Bronchi and alveoli seeking respiratory droplets
Float on the air, a nightmare of guided munitions
Always a reckoning when such assassins are loosed,
And now the vineyard of joy is dead and gated, the
Elders are on lockdown, prisoners of Corvid-19,
Of a government that moves too slowly and this
Virus that moves with speed, children sent home
From school, the workers forced from their jobs, a
Run on TP, tissues and hand sanitizers, breezes
Caressing the face, now just a memory like love
And blisses, handshakes and bracing bear hugs
Like social networking of the off-line variety

© 2020, Jamie Dedes

Jamie is the curator of The Poet by Day.


Never Named

Chatter-clips in muffled murmurs
overheard.
Overt opinions in strained silence
suspended.
Tactful teacups in stilled saucers
of tears.
Reverberating reels of sudden shock
echoing.
Mystified minor in innocent ignorance
unaware.
Death danced in devilish delight
unnamed.
Years later, I learned about
CANCER.

A TOUCH OF CANCER

Unasked, unwanted, it appeared;
a black dot on the middle of my right cheek.
A spider bite? A probable assumption.
It developed a white head,
I squished it, it spurted and grew a scab.
Then it became an unsightly scabby growth
of potent ugliness, taking over my cheek.
A skin specialist was consulted.
He was fascinated, he concluded that this “spider bite”
needed an investigation.
He cut and sent a sliver to be biopsied.
Final diagnosis:
“Squamous Cell Carcinoma” of the cancerous type.
Remedy:
Immediate removal, non-negotiable.
Twenty-one stitches later, the growth lay vanquished.
As “Frankenstein’s” distant cousin, I faced the World.
Vitamin E oil has finally smoothed the scar
into a faded memory of a major scare.
I am eternally grateful to faith and Dr. J.

© 2020, Irene Emanuel


The Virus 

A sneeze from behind makes people cringe and turn
to see what culprit’s spreading the disease.
They’ve yet to call at night for dead to burn,
but just wait ’til we’ve more fatalities.

We ‘Mericans think we’re super powered
to fend off almost any aggressor.
But lately our record with wee foes has soured,
or haven’t you noticed that, Professor?

Now comes the smallest we’ve faced in a while,
and folks worry about how serious.
Heed your doctors, they won’t jive you with guile;
just don’t listen to pols imperious.

Wash hands, cover coughs, it’s not just the flu.
So prepare, but don’t panic. I care ‘bout you.

© 2020, Joe Hesch

Joe’s site is A Thing for Words


Pandemic

I have a small cold
and a library book to return.
Should I wipe it clean with disinfectant
and return it through the book drop?
Or let it become overdue?

I have a hair appointment
for next week Thursday.
If I feel better by then,
should I keep it?

I have a massage appointment
for the following week
which I really need
because I’m stressed
but they tell me not to come
for two weeks from the onset
of an illness. Do I count from
Monday when I began feeling
run-down or Friday
when I finally I knew why?
One means keep it,
the other cancel.

I don’t know if I have a fever.
My thermometer’s broken
and there are none in the stores,
but I’m in the target age group who die.

I have health insurance. Should I get tested?
The news says not to just show up
at your doctor’s office,
if you think you have the virus.
But will they then show at mine
making a spectacle, lights a-flaring,
outing me to the neighbors?
Or will it be like China
removing me by force?

My job tells us to stay home if sick
but they don’t provision for those
who don’t have enough sick leave
so I don’t call the doctor and go to work,
pretending to be perfectly well.

© 2020, Diana Lundell


..spoons..

yes, we have been indoors a while now

it has happened before, do you remember

that year the snow came & i had to have a

taxi to get there

how all the guttering & aerials went with

the weight of it

suspension springs snapped

then after everything was repaired

some words we google then change

the letters about to confirm with

that which is deemed correct

granny had special knives too, fish

and butter and some others. on a

rainy day she would let us play with them

i still enjoy cutlery

i am not called that, mine is more

the usual without the d, however

now he texts me i am abbreviated

into gma

which is cool

i am enjoying being in so much

yesterday i was already and coated

then saw the snow warnings on the

pass

so made coffee and ate malt loaf

the only other issue being some virus

out there

another reason, should i say excuse

for staying home

with my google assistant

© 2020, Sonja Benskin Mesher

Sonja’s sites are:


I NAME YOU FEAR

Like the wind, your exact birth is shadowy, even murky,
But the flow, and rush, like an old bull, is marked by scores of bruises,
Laughter is now whispered jest,
Camaraderie is thinning like a slippery path,
Ten fingers pointing at one location,
Might we be missing the point?
Like the wind on a sneeze,
Breath carries death so they say,
Goose pimples on a population that now hibernates indoors,
Scrubbing hands behind masks to keep the stray bullets off the air waves,
Palpable is FEAR rippling down the spines of the assumed healthy,
Boarders shrinking before the eyes of a cruise ship afloat a memorable trip,
Statistics roll out with diversity,
Some minimizing, some maximizing,
Along while back, we learnt a sweet investment called individualism,
Fenced diffences against the onslaught of our privacy,
Would the wind honor this paid service or even approve it?
Death is a chief garantor of flesh after a time,
It’s the fate of birth,
But fear is the monster that serves deathness to the living,
As we suffer shortage of basics in the war against a warring virus,
Some have hoarded food supplies for a decade,
Some are stocking distance for their own in remote homes,
Some are breathing through masks In bunkers below the ground,
History has a thing about life,
Mans best intentions are tested by calamity,
And the world has one right now,
The morbid fear of catching a dreaded virus,
That has already taken some down and has no respect for boundaries,
How we die depends on how we live,
If fear governs our senses enough to barricade ourselfs away from those in need,
We shall for sure die,
But before the physical,
Our Soul will have died Twice over from fear,
And thrice over from the meanness of withholding help to the needy, in an effort to preserve ourselves,
So ” I name you fear”, O you colonial hunter of human health,
And banish you to the deserts of dusty horizons,
Where your barren unconcern must remain buried,
To give man a chance at rebirth in the genuine concern of one facing this ultimate test of living,
I ” name you fear” O you coward who escaped your masters rogue shed to shade the color of life a night without the dance of the stars,
I ” name you fear” and tag you loser for records show others came before you and perhaps did worse,
So we know we shall survive you for life is a survivor from the realms of amniotic fluids to the trenches of war,
For life is held by a divine hand that constantly looks onto it wellness,
So though unwelcome you came and may stay a bad season,
Tomorrow is not yours except in records.
And those too, shall remain in archival shelves,
Once more to remind tomorrow that the human soul is a giant ,
And indomitable to any spirit that is not from it’s maker.
We shall suffer pain.
We shall lose some.
But we shall overcome the fear that you sow indifference that kills the living.

© 2020, Nancy Ndeke

Nancy’s Amazon Page is HERE.


Viva Italia

because we all
get influenced by all
and all is you
and the air is heavy on the shoulders
let’s sit down all
(the night is a round table)
accept each other and
give ourselves to all
then the song remains
eternal
(because is chanted)

after your voice comes mine
around fire

© 2020, Bozhidar Pangelov (Bogpan)

Bozhidar’s site is (bogpan – блог за авторска поезия  блог за авторска поезия )


~ SK was Right ~

They call it COVID, magic number 19,
One letter off, from birds who pick the bones clean.
Who are the carrion crows of this battle?
Who rake in profits from each, extended death-rattle?

The child king fired all the medic Gunslingers.
Now that he needs help, he only points fingers.
Has “Captain Trips” finally come at long last?
Does the Man in Black wear a plague doctor’s beaked mask?

“KA is a wheel…its one purpose, is to turn.”
Maybe Gaia just got tired of watching the world burn?
Each life snuffed out: a brick in the Dark Tower,
Each one, marking Mankind’s plummet from power?

All the child king’s puppets, and all his “Yes-Men”
Can’t put the world back together again.
If only we had some sort of Pandemic Team!
Or money for tests, instead of golf on the green.
Hindsight in 2020? Remains to be seen.

They call it COVID, magic number 19,

Perhaps it’s KA…and “All things serve the Beam.”

(Stephen King fans are probably likely to enjoy this piece a bit more than other readers. The number 19 is important to him, and figures deeply in many of his works, but none more so than in his Magnum Opus, “The Dark Tower” series.)

© 2020, Corina Ravenscraft


Novel Virus

Can a novel virus teach
What climate emergency so far have not?
The interconnectedness of a global world
No country beyond its reach
Collective action the only sensible plot
Work together without accusing insults hurled

Can a novel virus show
What’s closest to our hearts
What we value most of all
Do we dare accept, have courage to know
Faithfully confess what we display in all our art
Happiness only ever lay in following loving soul calls

Can a novel virus reveal
How compassionate living will be
Only way out the materialistic maze
Can we make a New Green Deal
Accept responsibility humbly
Changing our planet wrecking, extreme storm inducing ways?

© 2020, RedCat

RedCat’s site is The World According to RedCat


C-VIRUS

Moving toward the Megallion Swamp
My mystical swamp with a
Host of ghost characters
Summer sweats pheromones for
Mosquito troops hunting sweet blood
Females, say the science sites
Pregnant females feed on humans
I swat and stomp in ankle combat boots
Water moccasins visible
In the evaporating water
But me, I have a mission

Peopled swamp calling me
Some dressed in white
Hoodoo circle chanting
Others in white Baptismal light
Some in Grays or Blues
Maybe reenactment troops
Some in cheap suits like old
Blues bands shredding their guitars
Ghostly voices drifting over a
Tract of swamp advertised for sale
Of More-Or-Less 4.5 acres
Me, my mission moving toward summer
In the Sunshine State

Candidates spewing hate
Quarantined countries
Smiles and frowns hid behind
Medical masks while hoarding
Cases of hand sanitizers
The swamp shadows I see
Doctors with beaks
Bubonic Plague masks
“Bring out your dead!”
Time an illusion as
Einstein said
Because surely we’ve
Stepped off the Tardis of Time
Without Dr. Who to rescue me and you
Into a swamp of history
Repeating itself and all the
Technology
Uselessly
Impotent in the swarm of germs

What mission can a high-risk
So-called “elderly” woman claim?
What can I do except
Crash through the watery milieu of
Chaos
Carrying a bag of herbs
Extracted in Winn Dixie vodka
Waiting for the full moon to offer
The untried elixir to swamp denizens
And others
Gathered beyond my back yard
Of a once-sane haven
Beneath Orion’s protection.

And I hear voices
Voices in the swamp
I see miasmic misery
Smell the smoke of
Charred dreams
And must see if it is
A vision of expectations
Or the real thing

Healing Reiki bear
Comes bearing herbal gifts
From the Forest of pure rain
Cordoncillo
Jaborandi
Lapacho
Mighty words that
Might as well
Mean Abracadabra
Yet even that has worked for some
In the past

I so want to save us all…

© 2020, Clarissa Simmens


Jamie Dedes:

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The New New Deal

Link HERE for Bernie’s schedule of events around the country.

“Democracy is not a spectator sport.” Bernie Sanders



“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton

At the Beginning of a Pandemic* … your next Wednesday Writing Prompt, hosted this week by Michael Dickel

Lymphoma Meditation-1 ©2019 Michael Dickel

…the ailing body points to culture, pain points to philosophy, language points to consciousness, and all point to what is still to be learned about our fragility, our mortality, and how to live a meaningful life.” Ann Jurecic, Illness as Narrative (Composition, Literacy, and Culture), p. 131


Unnameable

Large B-cell lymphoma with T cell-rich…
Damn, how do I slip that mouthful in.
To my life. My thought. This poem?

The tumor breached my spine, pressed
its attack onto nerves. A tactic to cut
communication channels. Painful alarum.

Yet here we arrive. The first day of Spring—
Shushan Purim. We walk in Jerusalem’s
Botanical Garden. The first chemical attack

on the tumor, the lymphoma, my body—
this day—dispensation given to fight back
against this pogrom in my very bones.

The red anemones, pink cyclamen,
something purple I cannot name,
shine with indifference to the wars

within my body and surrounding us.

Here we met a friend, just declared
cancer-free. Here we quietly held hands.

Here I felt something I cannot name.

—Michael Dickel


Winston Churchill in Uniform

“The boy, who as a man would later go on to lead the nation in WWII, was obviously affected by the pandemic known then as the Russian Flu in 1890.” B. H. Fraser, Poetry and the Flu, City Poems

COVID-19, the novel coronavirus (another mouthful) occupying our media and minds, spreads toward pandemic. Our responses, as societies and cultures across the globe, likely reveal much about us, as humans. If “the ailing body points to culture,” as Jurecic writes, what do thousands—or millions—of ailing bodies point toward?

Winston Churchill, as a teenager, wrote about the late 19th Century Russian Flu:

The Influenza, 1890

Oh how shall I its deeds recount
Or measure the untold amount
Of ills that it has done?
From China’s bright celestial land
E’en to Arabia’s thirsty sand
It journeyed with the sun.…

And now Europa groans aloud,
And ‘neath the heavy thunder-cloud
Hushed is both song and dance;
The germs of illness wend their way
To westward each succeeding day…

—Winston Churchill (age 15) Excerpts: Stanzas 1 and 7 of 12, emphasis added. Full poem

The poem ends with with very imperialistic overtones extolling Britain, especially in the last stanza:

God shield our Empire from the might
Of war or famine, plague or blight
And all the power of Hell,
And keep it ever in the hands
Of those who fought ‘gainst other lands,
Who fought and conquered well.

This could indeed voice the culture of late 19th C. Great Britain, couldn’t it?


Patients from the Influenza Pandemic of 1918–1919

The Influenza Pandemic of 1918–1919 killed more than three times as many people as the World War that preceded it (US National Archives). Yet not much was written about it. Here are extracts from two poems reprinted in a medical journal special issue on influenza, one from 1918, in the midst of the pandemic, and one from a century later:

The Influenza

Influenza, labeled Spanish,
came and beat me to my knees;
even doctors couldn’t banish
from my form that punk disease;
for it’s not among the quitters;
vainly doctors pour their bitters
into ailing human critters;
they just sneeze and swear and sneeze.

Said my doctor, “I have tackled
every sort of ill there is
(I have cured up people shackled
by the gout and rheumatiz);
with the itch and mumps I’ve battled,
in my triumphs have been tattled,
but this ‘flu’ stuff has me rattled,
so I pause to say G. Whiz.”

I am burning, I am freezing,
in my little truckle bed;
I am cussing, I am sneezing,
with a poultice on my head;
and the doctors and the nurses
say the patient growing worse is,
and they hint’ around of hearses,
and of folks who should be dead.…

—Walt May (1918)

The 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic

…It affected the lungs and caused their skin to turn blue
Comfort was given it was all they could do
In effect it caused people to suffocate
And it continued to spread at an alarming rate.

People kept away from large crowds and were told to wear masks
And they struggled to perform their daily tasks
Remote areas in the world were affected too
By this airborne killer virus, the great Spanish flu.

Efforts were made to slow down this disease
But slowly and surely was bringing the world to its knees
Shops opening times were staggered all over the lands
And people were encouraged not to shake hands.…

They closed many schools, services were hit too
With workers struck down by this merciless flu…

—Tom Cunningham (2018)

Both poems from: “Tres Poemas Sobre la Pandemia de Gripe de 1918.” Virología: Publicación Oficial de la Sociedad Española de Virología, 21:1 pp.68–72 (PDF of the journal, with full versions of these poems and another) Note: Walt May, a humorist / poet, wrote for newspapers, with his poems formatted as prose in newspaper columns. I have taken the liberty to adjust the line breaks from the source article.

Do these examples point to differences in culture over that century? What would our own poems point to, written now, at the beginning of a potential pandemic?

Jurecic points out that “despite the [1918–1919] flu’s ferocity, for much of the twentieth century this pandemic nearly vanished from popular consciousness.…the pandemic is virtually absent from American and British literature of its era” (p.1). After citing a few literary examples that do exist from the 1918 influenza pandemic in narrative prose literature (so not the 1918 poem above), Jurecic asks this: “How to bring the pandemic and the narrative form together? It is as if the project were unimaginable in the early twentieth century” (p. 1). Is it imaginable in ours?

“In stark contrast”, she points out, much has been written about HIV / AIDS (once we acknowledged it): “Journalists, playwrights, novelists, poets, memoirists, and diarists joined artists from other media in an effort to document the [AIDS] pandemic, create memorial art, and make meaning of suffering and loss on scales ranging from individual to global” (Jurecic 1–2). She gives many reasons for this, but this is a writing prompt, so…


WEDNESDAY WRITING PROMPT

* Editor’s Note: Twelve hours after this post went up, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the virus crisis a pandemic.  Link HERE. for details. 

This prompt emerges from musing about Jurecic’s questions and the quote at the top of the page: How to bring illness (personal or pandemic) of the ailing body, pain, and language to point to culture, philosophy, and consciousness in poetry that also points “…to what is still to be learned about our fragility, our mortality, and how to live a meaningful life”? Especially at this cultural-historical moment of an emerging pandemic?

Start your writing, from the midst of this emerging COVID-19 pandemic.

Write what is unnameable.

Good health to you.

—Michael Dickel
Lecturer, David Yellin
Contributing Editor of The BeZine

 Share your poem/s and …

  • please submit your poem/s by pasting them into the comments section and not by sharing a link
  • please submit poems only, no photos, illustrations, essays, stories, or other prose

PLEASE NOTE:

Poems submitted through email or Facebook will not be published.

Deadline:  Monday, March by 16 pm Pacific Time. If you are unsure when that would be in your time zone, check The Time Zone Converter.

Anyone may take part Wednesday Writing Prompt, no matter the status of your career: novice, emerging or pro.  It’s about exercising the poetic muscle, showcasing your work, and getting to know other poets who might be new to you.

You are welcome – encouraged – to share your poems in a language other than English but please accompany it with a translation into English.


Source: Wikimedia Commons Public Domain

Postscript

“By the flash-light of her fevered vision, Plath leads us into an apocalyptic wasteland. Then, like a hypnotist, she brings us back from it…She [becomes] the master of her feverish animal, all-powerful and entirely autonomous, self-made, and self-regenerating…”

—Kary Wayson, The incinerating vision of this Plath classic. Poem Guide, The Poetry Foundation

An extract from the Sylvia Plath poem Wayson analyzes, to serve as further inspiration:

Fever 103°

Pure? What does it mean?
The tongues of hell
Are dull, dull as the triple

Tongues of dull, fat Cerberus
Who wheezes at the gate. Incapable
Of licking clean

The aguey tendon, the sin, the sin.
The tinder cries.
The indelible smell

Of a snuffed candle!
Love, love, the low smokes roll
From me like Isadora’s scarves, I’m in a fright

One scarf will catch and anchor in the wheel,
Such yellow sullen smokes
Make their own element. They will not rise,

But trundle round the globe
Choking the aged and the meek,
The weak…

—Sylvia Plath ©1993 Ted Hughes used under fair-use provisions
Full poem for fuller inspiration.


Further readings…

  • Dickinson, Emily. “Pain—has an Element of Blank.” The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson. Ed. Thomas H. Johnson. Boston: Little Brown, 1960. 323–24.
  • Fadiman, Anne. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Cultures. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1997.
  • Jurecic, Ann. Illness as Narrative (Composition, Literacy, and Culture). Pittsburgh: U of Pittsburgh Pr, 2012.
    Lorde, Audre. The Cancer Journals. 2nd ed. San Francisco: Aunt Lute Books, 1980.
  • McKim, A. Elizabeth. “Making Poetry of Pain: The Headache Poems of Jane Cave Winscom.” Literature and Medicine. 24.1 (2005): 93–108.
  • Oates, Joyce Carol. “Confronting Head-On the Face of the Afflicted.” New York Times. 19 Feb. 1995. 3 Nov. 2008
  • Sontag, Susan. Illness as Metaphor and AIDS and Its Metaphors. New York: Anchor/ Doubleday, 1978, 1988.
  • Sontag, Susan. Regarding the Pain of Others. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003.
  • U.S. National Archives. “The Deadly Virus: The Influenza of 1918–1919.” Web Page.

MICHAEL DICKEL (Meta /Phor (e) /Play) has won international awards and been translated into several languages. His latest poetry collection, Nothing Remembers (Finishing Line Press, 2019). A poetry chapbook, Breakfast at the End of Capitalism, came out in 2017 (free PDF ). His flash fiction collection, The Palm Reading after The Toad’s Garden, came out in 2016. Previous books include: War Surrounds Us, Midwest / Mid-East, and The World Behind It, Chaos…(archived free PDF ). He co-edited Voices Israel Volume 36, was managing editor for arc-23 and 24, and is a past-chair of the Israel Association of Writers in English. He publishes and edits Meta/ Phor(e) /Play and is a contributing editor of The BeZine. He grew up in the US Midwest and now lives in Jerusalem, Israel.


Jamie Dedes:

Your donation HERE helps to fund the ongoing mission of The Poet by Day in support of poets and writers, freedom of artistic expression, and human rights.

Poetry rocks the world!



FEEL THE BERN

For Peace, Sustainability, Social Justice

The Poet by Day officially endorses Bernie Sanders for President.

The New New Deal

Link HERE for Bernie’s schedule of events around the country.

“Democracy is not a spectator sport.” Bernie Sanders



“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton

“The BeZine” February Blog Series on Illness and Disability begins today; Why “Disabled” not “Differently Abled”

Courtesy of Tiago Moisés under CC0 Public Domain license via PublicDomainPictures.net

“My disability exists not because I use a wheelchair, but because the broader environment isn’t accessible.” Stella Young, was an Australian comedian, journalist and disability rights activist. She was born with osteogenesis imperfecta and used a wheelchair for most of her life. When she was fourteen she audited the accessibility of the main street businesses of her hometown.



Throughout the month of February 2020 The BeZine blog is featuring a range of material on illness and disability in concert with Kella Hanna-Wayne’s YOPP!, a social justice blog dedicated to civil rights education, elevating voices of marginalized people and reducing oppression. Our intention in doing this is to give voice to those with illness and disabilities, to raise awareness of the issues and outcomes, and to offer workable alternatives for those who have to manage in environments that are not conducive to inclusion.

We’ve already had some question with regard to terminology: disabled v. differently abled.  We respect each contributor’s chosen terminology, which will be reflected in their posts.

Kella and I are disabled and we both prefer that term over differently-abled. Here are my reasons:

  1. There are things I – like many others – am absolutely unable to do. Period. End of story.
  2. “Differently abled” is inherently meaningless in this context. All human beings are differently abled. Some are better at music, for example, and others are better at accounting.
  3. Almost everyone has a degree of disability, especially as aging progresses.  If you wear glasses, you are disabled and, depending on your occupation or interests, you might be unable to function without glasses.
  4. A reference to anyone as a “differently-abled” individual, is a cruel euphemism.  In my own case, for example, it diminishes the reality of my 24/7 life, which involves being on high-flow oxygen, being unable to lift anything heavy, being restricted to home, often being restricted to bed, dealing with chronic bleeding due to a rare blood cancer, and living with extreme fatigue.
  5. “Differently abled” implies a norm that does not exist. There is no one way to feel, to communicate, to educate oneself, or to ponder and create art. The implication is that anything that deviates from the fantasy norm is less than ideal, possibly even somehow wrong.
  6. “Disabled” is not a disparagement. It’s truth. It’s accurate. Implicit is an acknowledgement that there are productivity and quality-of-life challenges that have everything to do with social, political, and cultural assumptions and structures and nothing to do with any one person’s atypical body or mind.
  7. Finally, “differently-abled” is a stigmata that ignores the kinds of accommodations (including some  life-changing technologies) that could be made available to help those many with atypical bodies and minds to lead fuller, richer lives and to contribute their energy and talent to help others and their communities.

This is the short story, the down and dirty of it.  Input is welcome from readers and we hope that you will enjoy and benefit from contributors’ posts throughout the month. We are still open for submissions to the February blog-post series on illness and disability and for submissions to the March 15 issue of the Zine, themed “Waging Peace.”  Submissions should be emailed to bardogroup@gmail.com.

In the spirit of love (respect) and community
and on behalf of The Bardo Group Beguines,
Jamie Dedes
The BeZine, Managing Editor


Jamie DedesAbout /Testimonials / Disclosure / Facebook / Medium Ko-fi

Your donation HERE helps to fund the ongoing mission of The Poet by Day in support of poets and writers, freedom of artistic expression, and human rights.

Poetry rocks the world!



FEEL THE BERN

For Peace, Sustainability, Social Justice

The Poet by Day officially endorses Bernie Sanders for President.

The New New Deal

Link HERE for Bernie’s schedule of events around the country.

“Democracy is not a spectator sport.” Bernie Sanders



“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton

FAT NEVERLAND (I’M LOATHIN’ IT) by Luke Prater … and a call for help from Luke and his family

LUKE PRATER‘s poetry is ever fascinating to me. He will tackle – as he has here – the same subject in more than one poetic form. Dedication, keen intellect and a singular irreverance are the hallmarks of this thirty-five year old English poet who took a degree in English lit with creative writing and performance and subsequently went to SOAS, London to study ethnomusicology at the master’s level. At twenty-seven he took up poetry, which he says saved his life – a thing it has done for many of us. More recently Luke added “iPhoneography” to his formidable list of accomplishments, shooting pictures and “editing the hell out of them.” J.D.

“They say a picture paints a thousand words; I’d argue the opposite.” Luke Prater

 

Fat Neverland (I’m Loathin’ It) – villanelle

Factory-farm ‘em on rainforest land,
jab ‘em with jittery antibiotics, in
serving a hoodwinked world’s worst burger-stand.

Nutrient nadir damn should have you banned,
even when just drunken teens in your night-kitchen
sucking down scared meat from rainforest land.

Wretched obese bloat and roll at your hand;
farmers on statutory antidepressants been
plying, supplying world’s worst burger-stand.

Consciences slip through ringed fingers like sand.
Wallets are plump; I’m still wondering why? (you grin)
greenlighting greenfelling greenforest land.

Golden the arches, but ain’t worth a grand;
Ronald’s grave future sees past catching up with him –
homeless – McCuster’s last fastburger-stand.

Clown let the kids party Fat Neverland,
Tinkerbell grounded by chow she’s demolishing.
Cattle confused grazing rainforest land,
passed off as food at world’s worst burger-stand.

Fat Neverland (I’m Loathin’ It) – Pushkin Sonnet

The cattle farmed where once was leafage,
force-fed with drugs unfit for us,
supplying world’s worst burger beefage
by farmers in disguised disgust.

Nutrition nadir should be outlawed,
to spare the trees the rasping chainsaw;
to spare the cattle cheap mince fate;
to close the flooding fast-food gate.

In wilful ignorance we swallow,
in sucking down scared meat with Coke.
Obese, they bloat in oily soak,

in lack of self-esteem they wallow.
Let kids carouse Fat Neverland,
at Ronald’s clowning, cloying hand.

Fat Neverland (I’m Loathin’ It) – free verse

Factory-farmed on rainforest land;
force-fed with antibiotics to serve a
hoodwinked world’s worst burger-stand.

A nutrient nadir that should have
them banned, even when just drunken
teens in their night-kitchen, sucking
down scared meat with cardboard and Coke.

Wretched obese bloat oily soak, in
triple chins of self-loathing they wallow;
farmers swallow disgust and
statutory antidepressants
supplying mass substandard beef.

Consciences slip through
ringed fingers like sand.

Wallets are plump

greenlighting
……..greenfelling
…………..greenforest land.

Golden the arches, but ain’t worth a thing;
Ronald’s grave future sees
past catching up with him –
homeless –
……………….McCuster’s last fastburger-stand.

Clown let the kids carouse Fat Neverland,
now Tinkerbell’s grounded
by chow she’s demolishing.

Cattle confused, passed off as food
at world’s worst burger-stand.

Villanelle – A1-b-A2 | a-b-A1 | a-b-A2 | a-b-A1 | a-b-A2 | a-b-A1-A2

Pushkin Sonnet (Onegin Stanza) – AbAb CCdd Eff Egg

 

© 2012, Luke Prater, All rights reserved


LUKE PRATER is a seriously talented English poet and musician. Many of you may be familiar with his work. (And I believe his dad was a fairly well know and highly regarded musician in England.) Luke founded Facial Expression Poetry and Critique and WordSalad blog, both of which are gone now. He shared the piece above with readers here several years ago. I present it as an example of his work for those of you who haven’t read him.  He’s a very worthy man. If you can help a bit I hope you’ll consider doing so. / J.D.
Image may contain: 3 people, outdoor and text

Luke Prater updated his profile picture.

**We’re two thirds of the way there!**

I’ve been seriously unwell for a very, very long time. Fourteen years, in fact. Some of you know this, others don’t. For Facebook friends, and old friends I haven’t seen since school or my early/mid twenties, the truth is I have often made it seem like nothing is wrong. Which is possible on the internet, and with the crutch of a lot of medication. It almost feels like I’ve been living a lie for years, (when not completely absent), because I just wanted to snatch a few minutes of normal. To pretend everything’s okay. The point I’ve reached is this: I cannot continue — the years slipping away, existing rather than living, the continual pain, dis-ease and discomfort. Therefore my family (including sisters Susie Ro Prater and Joy Prater) are fundraising so I can go for treatment at a private clinic in Germany that specialises in chronic and degenerative diseases using stem-cell therapy and other protocols. We’re two thirds of the way there! Here is the link to the fundraising campaign –