Saturday, May 23, 2020

The Daily {W}rite My Birthday Poem May 23rd, 2020

*72 . . . The Adventures of Chemo-Man 

What’a night, tonight. Like any other night, tonight.
Darkness spreads her legs wide open for a more
than an agreeable evening sky . . . the stars swim
by . . . wiggling like sperm missiles seeking out
an unused moon or two. Perhaps, a ménage à trois
of heavenly bodies. They don’t call it the Big Bang
for nothin’.

And thoughts, a thought, thoughts
drift like seaweed in the Pacific
on a night this deep, this dark. 
A tiny bit of sandy turf to stand upon
would be more than just nice.

. . . but I stray.
This . . . night. Tonight? Just another night just
like the night before. Another night just like
the night before that . . . and before that . . .
and before that . . . and the only difference?

April 2o, 2o2o Norman Regional Hospital Oncology 8:50 a.m.

Out of the bloodsucker’s cubical, back into the main waiting-room
greeted by a sea of old people in surgical masks. Old people,
my people. Old people in wheelchairs on regular chairs, some
standing in line at the front desk, each frail body supported by a
Cofoe NEW LED Aluminum Quad Walking Stick. Every time
the door to the chemo labyrinth opens their elderly eyes look up—
“Look at your arm . . .” I heard David say. “What?” “LOOK AT
YOUR ARM!” I hate it when he whisper-yells at me . . . but I’m
sure he hates it when I belittle his driving in full voice. So, I guess
we’re even— "You’re bleeding.” I look down . . . “Oh!” two thick
streams of blood emerging from under the left sleeve of my
tie-dye hoodie and running the length of my hand . . . dripping
from the fingertips . . . onto the waiting room carpet. “Oh!”
the lady at the front desk performs a perfect imitation of what
I just said when she sees my bloody hand. A quick thrust of her
left hand, she’s on the phone, and almost simultaneously two
bloodsuckers come out, grab me up . . .  four arms guide me,
and back into the bloodsucker’s cubical I go. Bloodsucker #1
lifts my sleeve. The elastic compression wrap that covered
the spot where they just extracted my blood sample is bright red.
“Oh . . .!?” A popular word at oncology today. “We got a gusher!”
If I had, had my funny bone turned on, I would’ve yelled,
“Thar she blows!” Bloodsucker #1 unwraps my arm as
bloodsucker #2 rips off a much bigger wad of cotton to
replace the tiny, blood soaked one. #2 hands the cotton off
to #1. He presses the fuzzy white ball onto the injection point
(located at the distal biceps tendon area of the elbow joint . . .
yeah, I had to look it up.) and wraps it . . . tight. This time
the elastic wrap has dinosaurs printed on it. A comforting pat
on my back by bloodsucker #1 and a pleasant “there you go!”
lets me know that I’m done. “Where do you think you’re going?”
Nurse Happy asks from behind me. I turn to her. She’s wearing
a chic Day of the Dead surgical mask. “You have an appointment
with . . . THE DOCTOR . . . Follow me . . . please?”

 . . . and in less than twenty-four hours, mortality
caught up with me . . . its wrinkled hand
thrusting out, tapped me gently on the shoulder
. . . I turned my head in just in the “neck” of time
and watched it . . . run away . . .  laughing as it
disappeared behind a black Chevy Nova parked
by the old oak tree that I’ve always wanted to climb
but never did . . .  leaving me there with nothing
but the fading memory of its crucified shadow
hanging from a wrought iron fence that half-circles
the Energy Center’s abandoned parking lot.

April 2o, 2o2o Norman Regional Hospital Oncology 9:00 a.m.

A quick triple knock on the door, a three second pause
and the Kwikset Tustin Keyed Entry Lever featuring
SmartKey in Satin Nickel quietly shifts downward.
The door pops open and The Doctor (only a foot or so
taller than door lever) power walks into the room.
She stops in front of the computer, diddles with the keys,
looks down at the clipboard in her hand, diddles again
with the keys on the computer. Pause. “Well, how
you doing today, Robert?” Oh, you mean besides having
cancer? “Fine.” I feel like I’m talking too loud but I’m also
wearing a mask . . . “Well, that’s good that’s good.” Again,
peck, peck, peck at the keyboard. “Okay. The bone marrow
biopsy . . . no change from the first one you took seven months
ago . . .” another quick look down at the clipboard. “How’d you
handle the second one?” “It was okay. Hurt a bit.” She’s stalling.
Why? “Okay, well, there’s not much we can do for you. Sorry.
The chemotherapy is just not working.” I think I say “oh” but not
all that sure. “So, what next?” “Okay, well . . . we can keep
feeding you blood and that’ll work for a while, but sooner or later
the transfusions will stop working too. Your blood will dry up,
your organs will shut down and—” “I’m dead?” “Uh-huh.”
“Now, we could just stop the blood treatment all together
and— "Dead?” “Yes, in about two weeks.” I think I laugh.
She stares at me. “I’m sorry, but I can only tell you the truth,
no watering it down . . . One thing we can do is get you up
to the OU Stephenson Cancer Center and let them evaluate
your status. See if you qualify for a bone marrow transplant.
How’s that sound?” “Fine.” “Alright then.  I’ll set up an
appointment for you (quick look at the clipboard) for . . .
this week and we’ll go from there.” I can’t see her mouth
because of the mask . . . but she sounds like she’s smiling.
It’s approximately sixty-seven steps from the examination
room to the waiting room. David’s there waiting on me.
I can tell he wants to know “how’d it go?”

We are shocked, aren't we, to find out that life,
our individual lives are so immortal . . .? but only
during the spring and summer months of existence.
The fall and winter? We bleed like everybody else.

Woodie’s Apartment April 2o, 2o2o 1:30 p.m.

The parking lot of Woodie’s building. David in his car.
 He dials a number on his phone. Talks. Pause. He
 hangs up. Dials a number on his phone. Talks. Looks
 at the phone. Talks. Pause. Hangs up. Pause. Woodie
 comes out of the apartment on the run. He goes to
 David’s car. David rolls down the car window.

Woodie: (yelling) I can’t find my fucking keys! I’m
going to be late! Stop fucking calling me! I can’t
find— your fucking phone doesn’t work. I can’t
hear a word you’re saying so stop calling! I can’t
find my—I’ll be back, okay, when I find the fucking
keys! STOP CALLING ME! Get your phone fixed!

Woodie exits back into the apartment building. Pause.
Woodie runs out of the apartment building keys in hand.
Gets into the car. David pulls out of the driveway, heads
for the hospital. Pause.

Woodie: Sorry about blowing up like that.
David: It’s fine. I know what you’re going through.
Woodie: You do? Oh, yeah, I forgot. Sorry.
David: Doesn’t matter. It was a long time ago.

April 2o, 2o2o Norman Regional Hospital Oncology 2:00 p.m.

The Chemo-room . . . a maze of cubicles . . . each one equipped
with a gray reclining chair. I call mine the Captain Kirk chair.
“Beam me up, Scotty.” Nurse blondie searches my bruised
arms for a vein big enough, fat enough to stick. “Well, shoot! Sandi,
get me the Vein Finder.” I could have given the machine that hunts
out the thickest blood vessels in my body a better name than just
“Vein Finder.” How about Blood Hound? or Blood Hunter! “Sandi!”
I hear Nurse Blondie shouting in my mind. “Release the Blood Hound!”
Yeah, that would be a better name. Nurse Sandi, on the run arrives
with the Blood Hound . . . a sort of giant barcode scanner with a wide
semi-skinny, metallic mouth, the “Trolley-Mounted Vein Finder for Vein
View Before Sticking” is its proper name. See? not as good a name
as the Blood Hound or Blood Hunter. The Hunter shines a pale-green
fluorescent light across my forearm . . . and there they are. Short, little
rivers of blood . . . looking like lime popsicle sticks. “There’s a good one!”
Nursey B. is the best at hooking me up to the peripheral intravenous
(PIV) line. I barely feel the needle enter the vein on my left hand. My left
arm gets all the poking, all the blood tests, all the transfusions.
My left arm and hand never complain . . . they just bruise quietly.

April 2o, 2o2o Norman Regional Hospital Oncology 3:30p.m.

“You okay?” I look up from the Kirk chair at Nurse Nice. She
looks distressed. It’s then that I realize I’ve been crying for the
last-half hour. I smile at her hoping she doesn’t see . . . she
rushes over . . . “What’s up?” She has a demanding tone to her
voice. Not unkind. But she does demand you tell her exactly
what is— "THE DOC said the chemo isn’t working on me. So,
I’m done with that—" She lays a hand on my knee and
automatically my hand covers hers. I don’t dare look at her
because I’ll start crying again. “Don’t worry,” she says with
such a tender, caring sound that I never heard from her before.
Sort of a whispery voice. My mother used the same voice
when she was trying to get me to go to sleep at night.
“It will be alright,” mom would say. And I’d believe her.

El Monte, CA May, 1961

The phone rings. “I’ll get it!” I said as I’m on the run
from my bedroom and down the hall— "I’ll get it,
mom!” Yelled my younger brother, younger but taller,
stronger than me. Behind me, I feel that
younger brother power as his left hand (filled
with a treasure chest of scars that he won from
kicking the dog out of anyone in the 7th grade
that fucked with him. He was in the 6th.) “RING!”
“I’ll get it, asshole.” my brother said. Magically,
I’m flew through the air in the opposite direction
from the phone . . . BUMP! I hit the linoleum floor,
my body, my legs taking most of the punishment.
It hurt like hell but didn’t stop me from getting
to my feet and leaping through the air onto my
brother’s broad back. We tumbled to the ground,
knocking the phone table over and sending the
heavy dial phone sailing. We scrambled for it, kicking
at each other as we crawled across the floor, AND
for the first time ever . . . I won! I grabbed the heavy
black receiver. Out of breath, I yelled as loud as I
could into the black mouth of the phone . . . “HELLO?!”

April 2o, 2o2o Norman, OK Woodie’s Apartment 10:30 a.m.

“HELLO?!” “Hello?” the invisible voice on the other end
of my cell phone says— Wait a minute! There were no
cell phones back in ’61, were there? Fuck! It’s 2020!
“Hello? Mr. Woods, are you there?” It’s Nurse Happy.
“Yeah, yeah, I’m here.” “Are you alright?” Yeah, yeah,”
I say as I’m trying to knock the fuzz balls out of my
consciousness, “Yeah. What’s up?” Happy pauses
a minute. That makes me think the news ain’t good.
“Well—" “What’s up?” “Well, THE DOCTOR called the
Stephenson Cancer Center yesterday after she talked
to—" “Uh-huh.” “Well . . .” She’s stalling. No one says
“well” that many times if they got good news. “Well, she
called to set you up with an appoint to see about the
bone marrow transplant. The hospital said they are not
taking any new patients for at least two months.” “Oh,”
my “oh” must’ve have been very telling. “But now, that’s
actually, good news.” “It is?” “Oh, yes. Very good news!
You want to try it?” “You guys think you can keep me
alive for two months?” There was a slight giggle from
Happy. “Yes! We can keep pumping you full of blood,
and if your cancer advances into acute leukemia before
the two months are up, we’ll be able to get you in as a
critical necessity.  Does that sound good to you?” “Sure.
That sounds . . . good—"

The younger we are the saintlier we are, we, teenage
gods and goddesses of the freckled-faces, the long
legs that stretch all the way to the ground, and’a flexible
body that can withstand being stomped into’a howlin’
puddle of sweat and spit by a heavy booted kick
to the groin, the gut, to the chest . . . those pretty-boy
looks demolished by the proverbial knuckle sandwich
to the mouth, the eyes bruised shut. You can hear
the bones creak, crack, splitting themselves into small
shards of collagen and calcium phosphate . . .  all of me
put back together . . . as easily as if I never fell apart.

Yes, if there is anything to admire about youth, it’s that
naive view of longevity, a long life. It never seems to end.

*Written by Woodie for Woodie’s 72nd Birthday

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

The Daily {W}rite April 2020 wk o3

Well, finally. Got my financial aid. I've been paying bills on the cancer therapy since last September and they decided to give me a 90% write off . . . on seven bills. Okay, thanks. But that's not much and I'm running out of cash AND I'm still being treated for cancer. So, I guess I'll call and thank them for the financial aid and see if I can start paying off my bills with a hundred a month. But I'm not even sure I can do that.
It's too easy. Let myself fall into a depression. I'm not going to allow myself to do that. I'm gonna write. My friend David is running for the House of Representatives . . . I think. I thought he was running for a senate seat. The House is good, though. He's happy about it. He feels like he's doing something with his life. I'm happy for him and plan to help however I can.

I find myself smiling as I write. Why? I don't know. For a second I allow myself to feel sorry for . . . myself. That makes me laugh . . . no not laugh . . . just smile. I have a good life. I have things to do to make even better existence for myself and my friends and the occasional stranger, I guess. THAT makes me shift from a smile into a full-throttle grin.  AaaaahahahahahaHA! Life is often better than we know.

Thursday, April 16, 2o2o
I have to, I must get this anger of mine under control. I can't control anger, yeah, I know that, but I can learn to express it a bit more . . . quietly. Amiable. Look, I don't usually post other's work . . . but this piece really said a lot to me today when I heard it recorded on YouTube.

Be Kind

we are always asked
to understand the other person's
no matter how
foolish or
one is asked
to view
their total error
their life-waste
especially if they are
but age is the total of
our doing.
they have aged
because they have
out of focus,
they have refused to
not their fault?
whose fault?
I am asked to hide
my viewpoint
from them
for fear of their
age is no crime
but the shame
of a deliberately
among so many
is. -Charles Bukowski

Bukowski said it better than I could ever say it. What a very "contemporary" exploration of what we are going through right now. I tend to be less than tolerable of conservatives. I consider them to be the enemy of democracy, of the U.S. of the Constitution of the United States, the Bill of Rights, and of we the people of the United States. I've called them evil on Facebook, and I got smacked down for it. How could you say that? How can I say that? Because they are. Still, after his debacle with COVID-19, the conservative party supports Donald Trump.  How could anyone who is NOT totally evil support this tyrant? 
10:15 p.m.
I don't have the temperament to be a politician. David is better suited for it. A mild manner but not a pushover. Me? I'm an old, very tiny bulldog. I get angry so fast. Stressed out. I'm a screamer, a shouter and cuss like a live wire. Better for me and the people who decide to fuck with me to just NOT talk about politics. AaaaaaahahahahahahahaHA! Yeah, that'll happen.

Friday, April 21, 2o2o
Wow! Life just took off and again . . . I didn't get much written done on the blog! Well. Anyway.
1.  I think I am depressed because this murderous POTUS, Donald Trump is going to get away with it.  32,230 dead in the U.S. as of today. More, of course, will come along tomorrow. For me, Donald Trump is guilty of the murder of these Americans. He either stonewalled getting out there and trying to stop it either because of politics (he wanted to brand COVID-19 as a hoax created by the Democrats and the "Fake" newsmedia to keep him from being reelected.) or because he is just too inept, unqualified to deal with a pandemic situation. 32,230 American citizens died because of this homicidal idiot.
2.  Darkness is just now taking over the sky. Where I live in Norman, OK right next to the OU campus, during the day it's beautiful a wonderful place to walkabout. The campus especially is nice. Lots of wonderful lawn art, beautiful buildings. But at night, just when it gets dark? It turns into a rather disturbing place. Lots of nooks and crannies for dark things to hide, to watch you. Still lovely but always good to not walk across campus at night . . . alone.
3.  Think that's all from me tonight. As dark as it is outside? A deeper, darkness is shining inside my  . . . heart? No, it seems its blackness is slipping like a veil over my mind, my consciousness.  Sometimes disappointment comes calling in the shape of old memories . . . My life. A life, I guess. Like any other, I suppose. But that's not the way it's supposed to be, is it? Isn't each life supposed to be unique, exciting, worth the effort that it takes to live it? I think this is it for me tonight. HA! I just looked and these entries are not the end of the second week but only three days into the third week! Lots of time left to write tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow! {smiles}

Sunday, April 19, 2o2o
Death. Life. Beckett was the man for me in examing the idea of birth and death. The quote above, They give birth astride of a grave, the light gleams an instant, then it's night once more . . . is from Beckett's Waiting for Godot. I think that Beckett considered "life" that time between birth and death as being . . . absurd, silly, a waste of time because no matter what you do . . . sooner or later you . . .  you die, bite the big one, the big sleep, the eternal land of Nod, dust unto dust. The closer I come to death the more I think about it.

The poem on the right was written by me. I've written a lot of poems with death as the main character. Well, not exactly true. The main culprit in most of my poetry isn't death or time . . . but gravity. Gravity is the enemy of life. Gravity attacks you the moment you are born and slowly, very slowly drags you down into the grave.

Tuesday, April 21, 2o2o
Well, things change real fast sometimes. Or at least it feels that way. Been on chemotherapy for seven months. Yesterday:
Came out of the blood room ready to go home after they tell me if I need . . . "Look at your arm," David said. I looked down at my left hand, at the wrist a steady stream of blood. I went up to the front desk, showed it to the lady at the front desk . . . her eyes wide she hurriedly phoned the back area. . . and the blood nurse came out grabs a hold of my right arm and hurries me into her blood station. It seems that I got a "gusher." That's what she and the other bloodsucker said. They unwrapped the arm and right in the middle the elbow joint (the distal biseps tendon . . . yeah, I had to look it up.), there was a small ball of cotton just soaked in blood . . . my blood. They worked fast, the one who took the blood put a big chunk of cotton on the wound and the other bloodsucker wrapped it back up nice and tight. Problem solved.

A few minutes later, I'm in an examination room. A knock on the door, two seconds later the doctor entered. And the rest of this story? Well, I'm putting all that in my 72nd B-day poem. Don't want to leave you hanging too much . . . the diagnosis is not good.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

The Daily {W}rite April 2020 wk. o2

You know, I'm not a big fan of talking my politics on this blog. I don't know why. I suppose that this blog needs to be more about my everyday life and not some political philosophy that is only important to me and has nothing to do with anyone else. But today, Bernie decided to drop out of the race and give Biden the go-ahead. And I'm glad he did. And it appears he's not taking his marbles and going home. He plans to be a part of Biden's campaign. And that's damn good too because we need him and his followers. But his followers. They're very upset that Bernie quit. they are mourning their loss . . . but are they? I've come to the conclusion that most people aren't as supportive of our democracy, not as supportive as they are about their own feelings. Their not sad for Bernie as much as they are sad for themselves. Ego. just that . . . ego. They're pissed or sad because they didn't get what they wanted, and all they wanted was to WIN! Not Bernie, but each individual supporter of Bernie wanted their voice to be heard . . . and that's okay . . . but it's more like they wanted to be the boss. Why? because they have "great" ideas for America? No, because they have great ideas for themselves. They don't really care about anything except winning . . . not for the country, for the Constitution of the United States, not for the Bill of Rights . . . but for their individual selves. Does that remind you of anybody?
Saturday, April 11, 2o2o 2:10 a.m.
Yes, I have slid past Friday without writing even a scribble on the blog. I'm a child with a boo-boo and refuses to do anything other than camp out on the couch and nurse my sore being. Every part of me hurts. My mind doesn't believe it . . . and all day my body keeps reminding my mind . . . we just went through a bone marrow biopsy yesterday and it really hurt this time . . . asshole.

2:00 p.m.
1.  I keep thinking about all the troubles going on in the world and try to do something about it and find that at least in this moment . . . there's not much I can do. But I also know that I will continue to try because that is what I'm meant to do.
2.  Reality is that which we experience whether it's real or not.
3.  Dreams are as real as the waking dreams we dream.
4.  I'm not an expert on anything. Which makes me an expert on everything.
Choose to be . . . that's all the choice you need to make.
5.  Beyond here is there. If you go there, it becomes here and you can look back and see there where you were before.

Sunday, April 12, 2o2o
Cold world outside my door. Cold . . . both physically and metaphorically. The TV keeps telling me through its PSAs that I should NOT under any circumstances leave my apartment. If I need groceries, have someone whose not categorized as being "elderly." Yeah. I'm elderly. And according to the PSA, IF I even dare to go to the grocery store . . . I'm a dead elderly.

My friend David Slemmons is running for Congress! Wow! I went with him to the capital to file. I was calling it "enlisting" but all my friends reminded me that's not a proper term. The proper way . . . He filed, he's filing. No, not enlisted. That would mean he was going into military service . . . and I guess . . .  he really is.

Tuesday, April 14, 2o2o
Again. Another day missed writing on the blog. But no excuses. Yesterday. The blood count was high enough that I didn't need a blood transfusion. However, my platelets were low . . . so, I did go back for a twenty-minute transfusion of platelets. Here's some funny stuff about my cancer treatment. I had blood drawn Thursday and Monday . . . and I got a call today that my blood vile of blood got lost! I know. They lost my blood. I fantasized that my blood wasn't lost . . . it was stolen by blood pirates. Why? Why would someone steal my corroded blood? Because someone found out that my bad blood was bad but was the only blood that could KILL COVID-19. So, the took my blood to a secret lab so they could make a cure to save the whole world. Okay, that's probably . . . probably not true. The probably . . . no, they lost it. Anyway, here's my blog for the week. Maybe next week I'll have more to say.  {smiles}