Poetry Post-A-Thon: The Diagnosis

This one was published in Alaska Women Speak.

The Diagnosis

In my cave,

in the emergency room,

the doctor left the room dark,

with just a crack of light,

that bled in from the hall outside.


In just eight hours, my right eye had gone

from noticing the blurred hands

of the clock on the wall,

hands that smeared like ink on wet paper,

to the hot lightning bolt

of photophobia, pain that had me

holding my head in the dark,

and praying for no light.


For an hour, my fiancé and I

were left alone in the cave,

to watch shadows move underneath

the closed door frame,

as the eye specialist saw

a man who lost control of a chain saw

and injured his eye.


You’re lucky. He can see you too,


the doctor said,

as I imagined a slipped hand,

fragments of wood splintered in an iris,

a severed optic nerve,

and the blood that brought him to the hospital.


Later, the specialist caressed my hands,

as he scooped them away from my right eye.

I smelled the Dial soap

and wanted to believe him:

I understand this hurts.

I’m fairly sure of what you have,

but I have to be sure.


Then, like a piercing light saber,

the scope swept across my eye.

Before the pain could cut

through my brain, he stopped

and pronounced:

iritis, at a minimum.


The specialist dimmed the lights

and my right eye went closed again.

My left eye, the one that could still see,

saw the first doctor

who shadowed the specialist.

I knew it! His fist balled

in triumphant victory,

of a correct diagnosis,

of what I had lost.

Poetry Post-A-Thon: Away with the Bitterness

This one was published in Peeking Cat Poetry

Away with the Bitterness

Uncle’s sweet tooth had to be satisfied and
each day he would fill his brown paper
lunch bag with a peanut butter sandwich,
always with wheat bread,
and two peanut butter cups.

My eleven-year-old eyes watched
this ritual each day while eating
the Life cereal he had prepared for me:
a half bowl with two heaping
tablespoons of sugar and a seventies
era Tupperware cup of milk.

I would later learn that while he
breakfasted with me each day,
my aunt would be in the next room
giving herself the morning insulin shot.

Uncle would always be given sweets
because no one could think of
anything else he would enjoy.
Besides the occasional jar of Brazilian
or cashew nuts, were the Whitman candies
most people reserved as an obligatory gift
for someone they did not know.

His wife would watch the candy with bitter eyes,
for she could not have the crust at Pizza Hut,
nor the breaded fish at Long John Silvers,
which blocked her calls because she
complained too much on their hotline.

It was she who begged him long ago to leave
his love in England during the war
to join her in the States, or else,
the blood would run not from
the trenches of Europe,
but rather the veins
in her wrists back home.

On Christmas, he would smile knowing the candy
he was to receive, and she scowled
as he passed the chocolate caramels around,
encouraging all but her to a Merry Christmas:

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