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cancer

Cancerous

(x = space)

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Cancerous

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We’ve been five

Soon we will be four

That is the prognosis

Palliation

Hospice

These are discussed

And sought

For him

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Out of order

Since he’s not the oldest

In mere math of life

It could have been me

I’m the one with the machine

To keep me going

But I guess

(today’s not over)

It’s not me

(for now)

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The math doesn’t matter

Not important

Math matters elsewhere

In the dosage

Of his medication

In the number of his place

In the hospital

His apartment number

To which they say

He will not be returning

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It’s not me

It’s him

He is important now

But I have to say

It’s been a problem all along,

Frankly, with me

I don’t know how to lose

A brother

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And has he ever learned

To live with this

I’d say so

A mystery he did resolve

Through work

Through home

Maybe through old movies

He knows so well

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And one day

All shall be all

God bless everyone

Who tries

Who’s trying now

One by one

Who practices with grace,

Each fitness for heaven

That shall be judged

By perfect love intending

Hoping that

Full health to be restored

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God bless everyone

God bless each one

God bless Rick

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C L Couch

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Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

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The Latest

(x = space)

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The Latest

(family things)

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My brother’s in the hospital

I’m not sure what that means

He fell

I know that much

He spent the night outside,

Which I think must mean

There’s trauma

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A body worked too hard

A body with cancer worked too hard

A neighbor saw him in the morning

And called 911

He’s hundreds of miles away

And he’s in the hospital

In downtown Pittsburgh

My sister says the hospital is good

Urban, smart, efficient

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Everyone knows their jobs

And what to do for him

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Now we know

We’re standing by

Something will happen

And we’ll all come in

It doesn’t have to take an ending

He simply needs to be in one place

Or another

For a time

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What contemporary medicine allows

And Medicare affords

A rehab center

For new fractures

While his cancer’s tended

And he

And everyone

Must deal with that

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We’ve been out there

When and where shall we go now?

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I’ve rattled all this off

Because

I don’t know how to be ready

For what’s next

I wish I had resources

Of all kinds

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Family things

Obviously

Certainly (to push on

the conceit) I don’t mind

If you know

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If you pray,

Maybe you’ll pray

I believe the power in that

God bless him

And help us all

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C L Couch

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Photo by Marcelo Leal on Unsplash

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Prevarication

(x = space)

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Prevarication

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How do I write about my brother

Again

And be ready one more time?

The doctor gave him time

Then that was it,

The doctor said

. . .

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C L Couch

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Photo by jules a. on Unsplash

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Rick o’ the Wisp

(x = space)

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Rick o’ the Wisp

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Even so quickly may one catch the plague?

Olivia in Twelfth Night

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Happy Birthday, Master Shakespeare

Squire Shakespeare

William

Will

Will o’ the Wisp

I’m visiting my brother today

He has cancer

I’ll be you knew of cancer

Even called it that

(unlike in a later age consumption for

tuberculosis)

I can’t recall it from a play

Or poem

But then I hardly know them all

And as it is,

I’m tired and not thinking

Did Lear get sick with something?

Lady Macbeth?

Or the thane?

Was there a balm for the queen

In Merry Wives of Windsor?

Did all of us feel better

In the panoply of spirits

That concludes The Tempest?

Or were we simply reminded

Of a world that isn’t ours

Regretting

Or remaining

Chastely distant,

Keeping to our own?

Well, a

Happy birthday to you, anyway

I’m visiting my brother today

He has cancer

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C L Couch

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Photo by Enrique Alarcon on Unsplash

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Ranger Rick

(x = space)

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Ranger Rick

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Last I dreamed about

My brother Rick

And about raccoons

Raccoons probably because

I saw images of red pandas

And understand

That red pandas are not bears

But more like raccoons

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My brother Rick because

We’re talking about

His last months

And hospice

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Raccoon Rick

Wasn’t there a Ranger Rick

And was he, if he, not a raccoon?

Or was the raccoon

A sidekick or an animated

Symbol generally

Like Smokey the Bear?

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Telling us

To live safely

Preventing forest fires

By keeping our own

Fires inside the ring

And dousing them completely,

After

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Safety toward

Cancer, metastasized

Keep everyone comfortable,

I suppose

Deal palliatively

Everyone on all sides

Of the cancer

Fighting, still

As much as they can

Capability

Will

The fight

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C L Couch

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Photo by Michael Payne on Unsplash

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by National Wildlife Federation, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10929789

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Horde

(x = space)

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Horde

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Today is my mother’s birthday

She would be in her nineties, now

She died in her fifties

Cancer got her

Got inside my father, too

Is inside my brother

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I could swear, but calling it

A bastard doesn’t matter

Cancer doesn’t care

It simply comes to cells and changes

Them so that they’re not good

Anymore

Like turning faithful into infidels

Except, again, cancer isn’t interested

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As far as we know

It has no soul

It simply ruins everything

And we can’t cure it yet

Though there are treatments

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Hard, difficult,

Life-changing treatments

Not like quinine (vitamin C) for scurvy

Not like the shots

That kept and keep

Polio and small pox away

Cancer treatments are harsh and

Guarantee nothing

The cancer might not go away

It might go away

And then come back

Survivors have success stories

But we are so far from

Eradication

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We should include a clause in every

Contract, every negotiation

Domestic, international

A commitment to take part

In eliminating

Cancer

With ongoing maintenance,

A best and last campaign

Into whatever hell

Is fit for plagues

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C L Couch

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Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

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Back from There Again

(x = space)

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Back from There Again

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Took a drive around and over

Through the mountains

Through tunnels

Up angles, down

The rounded Appalachians

Blue Ridge, Alleghenies

No rain or snow this time

There was wind

To blow my little car around

Clouds and sunshine vied

I got back

Hobbiton looks the same

Regarding what I left

Today,

I can only hope the cancer treatments

Work for him

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C L Couch

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Photo by Sean Foster on Unsplash

Appalachians at midday.

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Old River

(x = space)

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Old River

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There is sunshine I haven’t

Seen for a while

Western Pennsylvania had been

Living into its reputation

For precipitation

(there is a flood watch on

because the Ohio,

deep and wide

like the song,

could overmarch its primordial

lines)

I’m glad to be with family

Took two occasions—three if

Counting my sister and hers moving

Here—being New Year’s

And my brother’s illness

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Four out of five

Like the dentists

Have made it here so far

The fifth is coming soon

And I don’t know how to contemplate

What might happen next

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An elder brother’s murder

Was the dilemma for sibling Claudius

Here, cancer wants to commit

The crime,

The murder of my brother’s health

Unlike those of Claudius,

My words fly up with thought

And heaven catches them

I’ll keep offering

And offering

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In long ago, a sacrifice

Might help

But in the suburbs

No such help

Because we’ve grown beyond

The need

Some might say

(and should)

The laws have changed

Now it’s medications, institutions

On another altar

We can kneel and pray

Ancient of days

Will hear

As if it were the temple near

Whose opening we’d approach

As clean and ready

Bearing gifts

As we can be

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selah

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Now roll away, tumors

Like the stone that matched

An opening

So long ago

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C L Couch

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Pittsburgh

Photo by Taylor on Unsplash

Pittsburgh, United States

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Visiting with my Brother in Wintertime

(x = space)

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Visiting with my Brother in Wintertime

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Tired now

Just got reconnected

And can write to you

Am in

The Renaissance City

City of Bridges

City of Iron

City of Steel

Where my brother is

And cancer in the city, too

In him

It seems to be consuming him

Turning him in

Like a folder being folded

Movements happens cruelly

The pain is slow

Tomorrow the severer

Treatment starts

How this will work in him

How it will solve anything

Well, it could

It might

I can only pray it must

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C L Couch

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While skiing down the slopes of Big Sky Montana, I took the chance to slow down and look and capture the incredible beautiful scenery around me. Scenes like this seem to center me, with the stillness of snow settling in.

Photo by Jonathan Knepper on Unsplash

Big Sky Resort Road, Gallatin Gateway, USA

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