Don’t Ask

Don’t ask me how it’s going, for the truth is that it’s gone,

 a wholly unspectacular, prosaic denouement.

Don’t ask me how I’m doing. It’s a question that I dread.

I hate admitting how long I have lingered here, in bed.

Don’t ask me how I’m feeling, ’cause the answer is the same.

You’ll think I protest too much and dismiss what I declaim.

Don’t ask me how my day’s been so I won’t feel I should lie.

No man should have to fill his head with all that I decry.

Don’t ask me if I’m better. I so want to have good news.

Lacking it, my side of things, I heartily recuse.

Don’t ask me if it’s you who’s added pain to my distress.

If I have made you feel that way, I promise to redress.

Don’t ask me anything at all. Just hold me extra tight.

Being held by you is all that makes my life alright.

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Fine

Yes, I looked fine when you saw me last week.

I looked as healthy as you,

dressed to the nines with my hair high and sleek,

dipping my bread in fondue.

I hadn’t left my own house in too long.

I had a friend do my hair.

The times that I go out are when I am strong.

It took three hours to prepare.

Yes, I looked fine at that wedding last year.

You even saw me go dance,

cutting the rug with my sweet engineer,

caught in our own lover’s trance.

By evening’s end, there were tears in my eyes.

Stabbing pain shot through my back.

I danced with my lover, however unwise.

I knew that I’d have an attack.

Yes, I looked fine at the mall back in June,

smiling and trying on shoes,

drinking my coffee and whistling a tune,

texting friends as I peruse.

I got a new diagnosis that day,

the lesser of two horrid ills.

Some browsing is what held my teardrops at bay,

far better than too many pills.

 You seem convinced that I’m doing just fine.

I’m a magician, my dear.

It’s misdirection, a talent of mine.

Not all things are as they appear.

Affected

 I think of you and what you’ve taught as my true inspiration

although you weren’t trying to pass on your calm savoir faire.

Your wisdom is manifest broadly without affectation.

It’s living, between our encounters, that makes me aware.

I find myself out on the fence or beset with a quandary,

with so many ways to approach, to destroy, to succeed.

I’m set into motion and act, little time spent on pondering,

decisiveness coming from your gallant words that I heed.

The lessons pour in from wide range of topics and actions.

If I were to just beg advice, I’d not know where to start.

I’ve gleaned what I need from unseemingly linked, broad abstractions,

that graciously set up a residence here in my heart.

Mirage

fearless, clinging to the underside of sheer rock faces

roaring underwater, out of primary habitat

the wind sweeps through removing what scant vapors and traces

remain of the hate your verdure doth heartily diffract

singularly bold, your wings spread steal my quickening breath

words trip and fail to stack high enough to reach your ascent

held out in sparse offering the lusty, voiceless vignette

which, lacking all else, frames the height of all my good intent

Phoenix Rising

I’ll feel better next week when my medicine kicks in.

I’ll feel better once I get some rest.

I’ll feel better next week when my therapy begins.

I’ll feel better once I’m not this stressed.

I’ll feel better next week when my surgery is done.

I’ll feel better once I lose this weight.

I’ll feel better next week when the healing has begun.

‘I’ll feel better …’ words I overrate.

I’ll feel better next week if next week will ever come.

I’ll make up a reason if I must.

‘I’ll feel better next week,’ I will chant until I’m numb.

‘I’ll feel better …’ words I seldom trust.

I gave faulty reasons and the words had turned to ash,

dying in a fizzle of a flame.

Now the phoenix rises from a long-awaited flash,

carrying the banner of your name.

I’ll feel better next week, though my symptoms haven’t changed.

I’ll feel better though the worst’s not through.

I’ll feel better next week, for your visit’s been arranged.

I’ll feel better, for I’ll be with you.

Fair Warning

Kick and scream and stomp your little feet.

Sing out how it isn’t nice at all.

Wallow in your misery and defeat.

Rant for hours because you took the fall.

Gossip will take place; accept it now.

Know that folks will talk of certain things.

If you don’t like talk … don’t break a vow.

Otherwise, expect the mud one slings.

Rising Above

Kill ’em with kindness, as Mother would say.

They’ll look the fool and you’ll come out on top.

When they get ugly, just yield right of way.

Don’t let it bother you if they won’t stop.

When I was young I resisted the task,

spitting right back when my foes would incite.

Now grown, I gladly will don the full mask,

work to be classy, and swallow my spite.

Like so much else, she was right on this front.

I’ve seen results she predicted back then.

I remain calm and deflect each affront,

hold my head high as they judge and condemn.

Soon all involved see our disparate styles,

wondering why I’m deserving of hate,

rising above as I deal with such trials,

keeping my cool till my troubles abate.

Vanquished

When the paint dries, it’s a much darker shade,

no way to judge till the moisture is gone.

Left in the sun, tubs of plastic will fade.

Cygnets grow up into glorious swans.

Life, left unguided, evolves on its own.

So too, those children, mistreated, grow up,

somehow resisting the seeds that were sown,

good men in place of the terrified pups.

Unsolicited

We all really hate when you give us advice.

It just undercuts our attempts made thus far.

We know that you think those suggestions are nice.

But bear in mind I earned each IV and scar.

You don’t know each treatment that I’ve ever tried.

Two decades have passed and I’ve been through it all.

It’s not just your words, it is what they’ve implied.

What’s lacking in wisdom, you make up with gall.

I’m so very glad things worked out for your aunt …

and yes, she had symptoms that sound just like mine.

Your grasp of my illness is naive and scant.

Your words are not helpful; they just undermine.

See, I don’t tell you how to do things at work.

So, don’t think you have any right to tell me,

’cause this IS my job, you magniloquent jerk,

as anyone ill as I am would agree!

D-Day

Hollow words float to the sky in retreat,

tails out of reach so I can’t grab a hold.

Actions are heavy and strong like concrete,

their presence a value far greater than gold.

You say you’re willing, as though that’s enough,

counting on me to not force you to prove.

D-Day is here, sir. I’m calling your bluff.

Man up and show me, or pack up and move.

It Felt So Good To Write It Out

‘Don’t send it … don’t send it,’ I say to myself.

‘Just leave it alone. Wait at least one whole day.’

It’s best that it spend ample time on the shelf.

My words are so harsh that they merit delay.

Although what I write is undoubtedly true,

these frail circumstances require due tact.

Sound sleep should take place ’fore the final review,

for after it’s sent, I can’t ever retract.

It’s time that heals wounds, as it will do with this.

I’ll try to keep such to myself until then.

To send it off now would be sadly remiss …

I won’t get the chance to start over again.

The Socially Acceptable Thug

Someone should pay for this. Someone’s to blame.

Give me an address and give me a name.

Accidents happen, and yet, I am owed.

I’ll do my part to see justice corrode.

My foot was broken; two million sounds fair.

I can’t live life as a mere thousandaire.

Call up a lawyer and tell him the tale.

Take them to court; let due process prevail.

Find me a good ol’ boy judge to preside.

Find me a jury who’ll be on my side.

Pass off a judgment and make them comply.

They have insurance, so bleed them all dry.

Then, when your premiums triple in size,

I can pretend that it’s all a surprise.

If all my actions remain unimpugned,

sympathy swells from this new-made tycoon.

The Verdict

I can’t say I’m surprised to get the news.

It falls in line with my unchosen course,

arriving just in time to disabuse

me of the hope that fate is not the source.

I pray that nothing changes for the worse

before I’ve time to take stock of my debts,

to pick out my own coffin and a hearse,

adorned with golden filigree vignettes.

Though … six good men can’t heft it, I’m afraid.

Regret and sorrow overload the joints,

disfiguring my final promenade

with spectacle that never disappoints.

A blaze of glory seems the better end,

the course of action I, myself, intend.

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