I couldn’t use my nose to breathe last night.
I closed my mouth and didn’t get the air
it takes to chew or drink or talk. I might
have borne it better if it weren’t rare
for my big nose to stop entirely,
for ornamental it has never been.
The feature’s broad and always worked for me,
until last night. This head cold’s origin
was sudden Wednesday, with a cough that burned
my chest congested in acute surprise.
It Friday dried my throat, and then I learned
its weight within my bones. My heated eyes
and heavy head prepared me for this phase.
I’m hoping to breathe freely in two days.
As irresistible as comfort food
and almost as compelling as a shit,
I had to ride my bike today. The mood
attacked at 8 a.m. I felt the fit
right after reading; restless vigor jarred
me off my coffee, made me mount the seat
and balance while I pushed the pedals hard
on thirteen roads of asphalt and concrete.
So up to Milvia and right on Hearst,
I coasted down to Acton, turning north.
At Rose a red light stopped me, and the first
few drops of sweat were felt. I pedaled forth
and powered up the slope of Monterey,
and shot for home with nothing in my way.
My brother’s hands are morphing into claws.
The doctor said the nodules were a sign
that he inherited a mix of flaws
that made his tendons pull. At 49
they started to compel his hands to curve.
His fingers seemed to start to make a fist
but hesitate, as if they lost their nerve
at air-embracing talons. He’ll insist
it’s medical – his surgery was botched.
And that’s the truth but only part; you see,
I’ve known my brother all his life and watched
the loving strokes he’s borne since infancy
as favorite. Stigmata on each palm
reveal how long he’s longed to throttle Mom.
I’m standing underneath my morning shower,
the heat so welcome I can’t get my fill.
I have to use a torque of willful power
to turn the water off and face the chill.
So I imagine coziness of socks,
a hooded sweatshirt, favorite pair of jeans,
a pair of trusted shoes to cushion shocks,
and walking muffled into winter scenes.
And even though I know my state of mind
is indicating worse than sick fatigue,
I can’t help using symptoms to unwind –
I draft this sorry head cold as colleague
in my conspiracy to get some rest
and cultivate an attitude less stressed.
Her heel is first to strike and find a base –
she forward rolls to balance at her toe,
while tendons in her leg extend and brace
the limb against the planet’s pull, and so
her body pushes forward, up, away
from where it postured just a moment past,
and step by step the distances decay,
like heat mirages fade when followed fast.
She lets her movement masticate the blocks –
it feels like she’s decanting energy.
She rediscovers how her pulse unlocks
the avenues to anti-gravity,
and where the key to everything she seeks
is hidden, in the code her body speaks.
I mean to make you think along this line
before my composition’s fully sung:
Please note, as you pronounce these words of mine,
how you employ and where you hold your tongue.
Is it absorbing food you shouldn’t eat?
Or is it moving with my metric feet?
Is it another sign you’re over-stressed:
a lump against your palate, tense and pressed?
Now read me silently, as still as air,
and sound my syllables within your mind.
Allow your tongue to nestle anywhere
it wants to be, and let the spring unwind.
Until you are becalmed and at your ease,
employ this as a mantra if you please.
I’m out of step – I walk today in pain.
My neck’s a starboard ache, but that’s not much
compared to what I’m lugging to the train:
a load of rage and rue too deep to touch.
For I can rub my neck or rest my knee,
take aspirin, ice a sprain, or wrap a sore,
but nothing can assuage this injury,
and I can’t cast protection against more.
The candle flickers till I trim its wick.
The lantern sputters till I give it fuel.
Affection falters, and the heart once quick
is slogging in an atmosphere of cruel
confusion and exasperation’s trap,
spelunking in this murk without a map.