“A poem is the very image of life expressed in its eternal truth.”
Percy Bysshe Shelley

Friday, May 29, 2020

What Still Works and Does Not

This bleak pandemic,
unsettling and quite deadly,
claims some positives.

Power grids prevail.
So do phones, internet, mail,
police and fire crews.

For those who can pay,
food supplies mostly arrive,
disruptions short-lived.

With dedication,
medical infrastructure
holds up though tested.

Village in action,
volunteers emerge to help
those needing support.

Despite achieving
moderate integrity,
system faults persist.

Widespread suffering
from lost jobs, lives, and routines
masks inequities.

The plea to expunge
stubborn inequalities
begs for attention.

Fairness when absent
imperils group long-term strength,
thwarting full promise.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

The Long Haul Begins

Pandemic effects
lingering intractably
reframe normalcy.

Once contagion stays,
resilience frays at last.
The long haul begins.

Self-doubt will persist,
fostered by this epic plague's
ominous death toll.

What strength can be mined?
Will one's foundational truths
aid forward movement?

As firm counterweight,
honest doubt hovers throughout
existential angst.

How best to resist?
Premature surrender tempts
even the strong-willed.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

At a Crossroads?

Job and structure loss,
worsened by vast disruptions
frays stability.

Stripped of jobs and means,
workers crave restoration
of earning power.

To survive and grow.
firms strive for financial strength,
light-touch oversight.

Product shortages
disrupt supplies and pricing,
needing correction.

Essential worker
income inequality 
tests priorities.

Poverty's role in
survival disparities
challenges fairness.

Still stunned consumers
staggering from brutal loss,
refrain from spending.

Healthcare providers
seared by unrelenting stress
step back to restore.

The economy,
missing strong participants,
fails to reopen.

Civic leaders caught
by a partisan divide
strain at consensus.

Stressed social contract
invites appraisal to gain
a broad renewal.

Unfolding events
mired in deep uncertainty,
straddle fear and hope.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Respect for the Supply Chain

Few would survive well
if links in the supply chain
worsened even more.

even in easier times,
the chain sustains us.

Providers include
farmers and fabricators
using transporters.

For optimal reach,
controlling the flow of goods
needs deft management.

Support system strength
buoys chain effectiveness,
its efficiency.

Respect then extends to:
those giving needed support.
A long list follows.

Health, fuel, housing,
schooling, employers, news folk,
customer service.

Charity pantries,
mail, cashiers, homes of worship,
clerks, warehouse workers.

Likely I have missed
links in the vast supply chain.
It is that complex.

All contribute to
providing and consuming,
hopefully in sync.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Competing Expectations of Stay-at-Home

We have all this time
crying to be productive.
Or we could ease up.

In recovery
from a traumatic event,
downtime may be key.

Covid's lockdown could
qualify as a trauma
to normal living.

Disrupted routines.
death tolls, lost jobs, displaced kids
call for adjustment.

Feeling unsettled
can overwhelm simple tasks
into inaction.

Public service plus
family obligations
may take precedence.

Otherwise let us
tone down grand expectations.
We need time to mend.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Together in This Live Experiment

magnitude of disruption
hides cloaked in unknowns.

Uncertainty rules.
Dense fog conceals the guideposts
aiding direction.

Trapped unwillingly
in this live experiment,
we adapt to live.

Survival coded
into humanity's drive
favors the fittest.

A growing number
strained by struggles to endure
likely still need help.

Wisdom may elude
leaders caught in the shock waves
of deep upheaval.

We the people though
can embrace the best within
and rise up in strength.

For the greater good,
kindness, mercy, and giving
could rise to the fore.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Facing My Fears

As I contemplate
this fierce global pandemic, 
questions need answers.

Will I get Covid?
Or could it slay a loved one?
Vulnerable state.

Though lacking symptoms,
have I been struck already
but do not yet know?

Without full testing,
with whom can I meet safely?
Am I locked in fear?

Will this ordeal end?
When and at what cost to all
life as we knew it?

History suggests
we will move on from this scourge,
but at a steep cost.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Musings While in Isolation

So what am I doing in coronavirus isolation? I write haiku-influenced poetry. I will keep adding more as thoughts arise. Stay safe, all.


A World in Lockdown

Abruptly becalmed
routine rushing and striving.
The eerie silence.

thrust upon the unwilling.
An uneasy fix.

Financial levers
clanking in a spin cycle.
Threatened livelihoods.

Stark trajectory
alarming even the brave.
Menacing unknowns.

Praising the helpers:
food, health, mail, money, civic.
Together we rise.


The Unfathomable?

This I fear deeply:
an unchecked unraveling of
the social order.

Could the worst happen?
Breakdowns of support systems
portend more hardship.

In uncertain times,
despots and demagogues ply
their flawed solutions.

Group collective strength
may prevail for good or for bad
Which do we choose now?

May current choices
aid what’s good for the many
and not just a few.


Front Line Heroes

Many come forward
risking themselves to sustain
strangers and loved ones.

Their list now includes
doctors, nurses, ship captains,
paramedics too.

Present also are
store clerks and mail carriers.
Truckers contribute.

Civic, finance, tech,
media, spiritual
join with researchers.

Such heroes declare
selfless giving still exists.
Goodness can prevail.


Monday, May 20, 2019

The MS Journey

Slow-burn lava streams
simmer and flow underground,
wanting to erupt.

Flares surface when freed,
minor to significant,
still devastating.

Scarring recovery
works slowly or not at all,
with no guarantees.

Lives build atop threats,
smoldering, latent, hidden,

Lurking opponents
testing one’s resilience
exhaust energy.

Even when accessed,
resistance and defiance
may fail in the end.

Hope ever lingers,
detecting new crevices
in which to survive.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

MS Pairs with Aging

Our understanding
MS gerontology,
a pressing issue.

In parsing between
normal aging and MS,
is it just the plaques?

Can we determine
whether each process affects
mutual progression?

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Help on My Journey

I whisper for help
as lesions of doom betray
my former life plans.

Fellow travelers
on my life’s unforeseen path
grant community.

The sadness of loss
experienced and to come
becomes bearable.

Inspired by Nicole Lemelle’s

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Ode to New Year’s Eves

Others celebrate
the promise of a blank slate.
I watch from afar.

So am I jealous?
I most definitely am.
I want to party.

As I yearn to grasp
hope’s seductive promises,
loss appears instead.

Inspired by Wheelchair Kamikaze's
New Year's Eve Through MS Eyes

Sunday, November 13, 2016

I Break My Silence

I share the following poems with you as I seek a path out of sorrow and despair. The beginning and ending poems are new. The others have appeared previously on this blog and are included in my book Peace on the Journey. Grouped together, they reveal the arc of my current trajectory.


I keep working on
finding a reset button
so love can prevail.

Lasting solutions
continue evading me
as fresh trauma lands.

How I will emerge
from ruthless remorseless loss
right now is a guess.


I Want to Believe

Life is a blessing.
Joy reigns as a birthright gift.
Gentleness is mine.

Discord and sorrow
oppressive and enduring
can be overcome.

Love will seek a way
to salve even the deepest
open wounds of loss.


Love Prevails

Somewhere kindness lies
waiting to be permitted
to ply its healing.

A love-emptied world
keens with anguished cry seeking
compassion’s healing.

I want to believe
love prevails ultimately.
Grant me evidence.


This I Believe

I do not know how
I will manage to endure,
but I trust I shall.

I tap into roots
spiritual and grounded
My center will hold.

Faith in renewal
anchors my spirit in hope
my life will be blessed.


And Yet

Loss retains its sting.
Heartbreak may resist efforts
to rely on hope.

I stumble about,
steeped in despairing sorrow.
Solutions elude.

No easy answers
no uplifting messages
now present themselves.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Leaving for a While


My very dear friends,
I take a leave of absence
so I can renew.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

What a Difference a Friend Makes


A dear friend stopped by.
Healing laughter, tears, and joy
flowed mutually.

We should all be blessed
to have at least one person
who opens one's heart.

The act of sharing
nurses what wounds might linger.
It lifts our spirits.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Survival and Renewal


After scorching fire,
green tendrils emerge from ash,
a new growth cycle.

Fire does not stop life.
What endures may be stronger.
First, it must survive.

After survival,
easing the path to thriving
becomes then the goal.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Open Letter to My Body -- When It and Hope Fail Me

 You have betrayed me.
I regret feeling this way.
It is a fact though.

I lament knowing
I cannot depend on you
to ease me through life.

I grieve at being placed
in a Me versus You stance.
Divided we fall.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

This I Believe*


I do not know how
I will manage to endure,
but I trust I shall.

I tap into roots
spiritual and grounded.
My center will hold.

Faith in renewal
anchors my spirit in hope
my life will be blessed.


Wednesday, July 8, 2015



Did you ever ask,
why did it happen to me?
Why oh why oh why?

Did you find answers?
Or none at all though you tried
lifting every stone?

Did you stop asking?
Acknowledging there may be
no answers at all.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Amazing Grace

In tragedy's wake,
grace visited us again,
sharing love's mercy.

Through the embrace of
compassion and forgiveness,
grace found expression.

What infinite love
can bestow on humankind
occasions wonder.

Adding prose to my weekly poem is a departure for me. However, after the families of those slaughtered in a Charleston church said they forgave the killer, I have reflected a great deal about what forgiveness means. And, it turns out that the issue of forgiveness has a great deal to do with coming to terms with MS.

First, let me address the Charleston event. For the South Carolina victim families, the heavy lifting required just to voice, "I forgive you," surely must have been overwhelmingly hard. Yet, that's what many did, leaving the rest of the world in awe of their graciousness; thereby, encouraging us to examine the nature of forgiveness and grace in our lives.

Inspired by the remarkable example of the families, I was led to ask myself, where have I failed to exercise forgiveness? The answer landed me squarely on MS' lap. We MSers struggle in varying ways while coming to terms with how MS has altered our lives. One's body seems to turn on itself destructively, which can feel like a vicious, random, and senseless attack. The impact may alter so comprehensively the person one used to be, some might say that person died.

But, who or what can we blame for that? Understandably, we turn MS into a villain toward which we direct our anger, resentment, and fear. Yet, as Robert Parker reminds us, MS does not exist as an entity.

The irony is we end up becoming both victim and victimizer. Certainly, one loses and likely grieves for the person one used to be. However, MS could be viewed, too, as the killer who also might need forgiveness. Because how do I separate MS from who I am physically? Am I making my emotional and perhaps physical healing more difficult by viewing MS with anger and loathing? Do I then end up hating and loathing my body? If MS can assume a separate existence at all, shouldn't it be integrated affirmatively into whatever characterization I hold of my physical body? Is it necessarily a matter of It versus Me? Is there an act of forgiveness I can embrace that will limit self-destructive behavior?

In saying, "We have no room for hate. We have to forgive," what can the South Carolina families teach me? If they were able to respond so magnanimously to an act of such horror, how can I embrace their forgiving nature with respect to my MS?

I say that, thinking that following their example surely seems laudable. Yet, in a practical sense, what difference does it make for me to forgive the "entity" which destroyed my life as I knew it? What real impact does forgiving MS or the process of MS or simply my body's physical breakdown have on my life? This is especially challenging since MS will likely cause a never-ending cascade of losses and grieving. How can I forgive and move on if the process of loss seems endless?

Or is the act of forgiveness encapsulated in the following haiku, which I removed from the above poem because I wasn't sure I wholly accepted its meaning?

Remaining open
to grace's bountiful gifts
ensures renewal.

I would like to rise to such a noble sentiment. Yet, in a practical sense, I am not sure what it means. I want to avoid the hazards of what some have called "cheap grace." I am assuming those commentators were alluding to the need to keep forgiveness from being an empty act, and that forgiveness can, and perhaps should, require emotional, spiritual, and psychological hard work.

Yet, again, I am led back to the question, what does that mean for me in a practical sense?

I'm hoping you will illuminate me.


I sought your counsel, and you did not disappoint. Your comments have illuminated me. Forgiving MS is a slippery concept, both in understanding it and in applying it. Several among you have said they could not forgive MS. Some have said that through their anger they gain strength in their ability to live with MS. Others have said that perhaps it is peace we seek, rather than forgiveness. Some believed that it is really the human condition we need to forgive, that condition which opens us to experiencing both joy and pain.

I'm afraid that figuring this out may be above my pay grade. Perhaps some noticed that out of my post's 42 sentences, more than a third were questions. Even after your input, I still have mostly questions. I remain, though, grateful for the deep reflection this issue has generated for me and for others. I suspect for me it will remain an open question, generating ongoing thought.

The issue, though, perhaps boils down to, who is in control? It may seem laughable to some that I invoke control in dealing with MS. Isn't MS, after all, an illness over which we currently have little control other than delaying the process of decline? True, but we have ways of finessing that lack of control; indeed, of wresting total control from MS or any similarly dire circumstance.

I have been fond of citing Holocaust aurvivor Viktor Frankl's concept of the ultimate freedom, which is the ability to choose one's attitude regardless of circumstance. Since he developed this concept in light of the Holocaust, I feel safe in assuming that he thought the concept applied even in extreme circumstances, where one's life is at stake.

In the particular case of the Charleston families, someone shared with me an unusual take on how forgiveness possibly applied in that circumstance. He suggested that with their apparently noble act of forgiveness, the families (unwittingly perhaps) acted with passive-aggressive hostility in saying to the killer that they forgave him. That is, by expressing their forgiveness so publicly, the families essentially neutered the killer's intention to create public pain and mayhem. Whether their forgiveness was a passive-aggressive act or not, the point is that the families took control of their story. They took away his power to control their lives any more. They decided how they were going to feel, what their attitude would be. It was their choice, not the killer's.

So the issue of MS and forgiveness may boil down to, how does one take control of one's story? Would forgiveness do that? Would anger? Depression maybe? Even, as several friends have done, ending one's life? It could be all of the above. Or none. Forgiveness, for example, could be dismissed in favor of seeking peace or some other goal. My belief, though, is that each person can choose freely what the attitudinal response will be.