The Second Line

Not the first, nor ever last,
The Second Line dances ecstatically past.
Behind the mourners, they’re not the saints,
All uplifted, marching in crowded street’s restraints.
Wheeling, turning, lift and fall with porch swings,
All souls rise upon the polls and upon night’s owl’s wings.

Arriving I walked through stranded streets,
Leaving, I grasp a heart (as my own skipped a beat.)
Coming to hear my disease my diagnosis,
Going to feel your hands opening my prognosis.
“I believe you understood I needed nothing!”
Somehow I left the sand untracked, forgetting every something,
And now I remember to choose without no judgement (or cups or wands)—
The images I neatly packed tumbled and eroded into sand.
When I lost my vision I cannot recall, but you held me in your light,
Though I came to find my courage, I dance away with second sight.

Saving Rescuers

I.

My love how wrong I am no star,
Somehow near but towards afar,
I leaned against your song.
Saving myself, I once sat up high –
Tall as a lifeguard tested and tried.

All zinc white nose, a clownish umbrella,

The angry preservation of a tune, a cappella.
Only block the violets from burning my skin.

Yet I rescind. Did I seek my mortal coil
Before drowning in the soil? So dusty.

Just before the burn wraps around my effigy,
Familiar arms grasp and pull you from the sea,
As your weight rises like an apogee –
Why must you make my job so hard?
A soaked coat draped over your bare

Hairless shoulder, While on the beach

Your chest fills with breath.

My waves, my shore.

II.

We slowly crest.
Yet you weigh nothing, even wet.
Simply the dearth of your will,
So short and without regard or debt.
We hear the oceans excess cheers,
And feel it’s drag upon our boney years.
Like an owl’s catty joke –
All height without heft. I let go
Just as you parade and poke
At the grievers and the bereft.
Stronger than knives or strokes and
Beleaguered, lonesome old oaks,
Together again, those wings, the trees,
Gasping at them as I forgot to sing.
Spanning years’ dimly stated demands
Its our last night in the Neverland.
And thus we fly away and apart –
Your good leg tied inside paper.
A pigeon homed to name the saint.
Save for you, I cannot restore restraint
Of discord’s time off or it’s application.
For now slippers of silver, icy with complaints,
For in the shadows of Mercury’s elation,

Heaving words, breaking bones, ingratiation.

Ever! and yet now you take your final stand?
Yet who but I deserved to walk in chains and receive all reprimands.

Not a single one dared, none but you understands.

Cancer, My Jailor

Born with a scream, die with a whimper. Between those bookends, the self somehow develops. Perhaps it’s because we exist at the bottom of an empty well, waiting for the drenching rains of knowledge to float us up and out of the darkness. The more I know, the less I know, yet the more I’m told. How unsatisfactory.

Do you somehow quench a long thirst, find how to know yourself, somehow climb out of that well to find your soul?

Probably not. And not exactly where I’d hoped to wind up at stage 4 of my life. No, not like a pitcher winding up on a baseball mound, but wind up the ends of a life spent pursuing “right” actions. By ingesting information, sharing love, giving as fully as possible, I found no answer to my great questions. And if the unknown creates a thirst, I remain in a state of dehydration. My consciousness lacks something, and I belive I’m not yet done.

When I’m alone with my thoughts, I know there’s not anybody else who exists outside of my mind. Am I fearless in my self-consciousness if this doesn’t scare me? Descartes be damned with your cogito ergo sum, and screw the existential problems of a Danish prince or a French novelist who’ll always be a stranger to me.

On the eve of attending the week-long Cancer Help Program at Commonweal Commonweal Cancer Help Program I sit on a bed surrounded by words, paper, buttons, beads, clothes, books, and thoughts instead of someone else. The embarkation of discovery. What’s bothering me about this cancer thing?

I’ve lost my freedom. My free will in some sense. Thinking about my health, my ability to work, earn, travel, run, freely move about the world as I have for decades, I gave my freedom to a disease that’s beginning to travel around my body again. Now my liver and onto chemotherapy and other fun stiff drinks Stanford has in store when a changed me drives back over the Golden Gate Bridge next Sunday.

Walt Whitman said it far more concisely so I’ll leave him to you and say, “adieu.”

Wisdom is not finally tested in schools;
Wisdom cannot be pass’d from one having it, to another not having it;
Wisdom is of the Soul, is not susceptible of proof, is its own proof,
Applies to all stages and objects and qualities, and is content…
– Walt Whitman