mardi 24 août 2010


Manet, Nina de Callias, 1873

for Maureen

"How are you even alive today?" she asked,
eyes popping out of her head,
body taut with dread and excitement.
I answered, "Because I write,
because I get to express myself while
looking for truth and justice."

(On the great American way, hey-hey,
the flat-beat drum across the plain,
the White Buffalo and the Wannabe...)

I'd come to see her because I needed help
getting off my pain meds, I wanted to
detox from a drug that had made me
even worse, hopeless and miserable,
with vertigo so deep I couldn't see straight,
rapid heart beat and blood pressure so low
the nurses always exclaimed, "Great!"
as they ripped the cuff off my arm.

(Maybe if I were an athlete in red Nike shorts,
doing warm-ups and five-mile days, but not the
pathetic gray lump sitting on this chair...)

I recounted for the new counselor
all the facts of my sad history,
the rapes, the violence, the mental illness,
the times I was hospitalized or homeless,
the frightened child, the abandoned infant.
She needed it all to assess what kind of
judgment I had in my debilitated state.

(And why I spilled the beans in that 
holy church, god only knows; I guess
memories get triggered easily in my world...)

I was triggered tonight by Spike Lee,
five years after Katrina: watching again how
the government turned their backs on the
black and poor, tore down their homes, 
closed their hospitals, left the mentally ill
adrift on the Gulf without a shithole or paddle,
shipped the rest off to Houston or Nevada.

(Left it to Sean Penn to drag the bodies out
and to Brad Pitt to rebuild the entire Ninth Ward,
and fuck the Army Corps of Engineers...)

I've been living like a corpse on the water:
For 14 years I've been stuck on a couch,
too sick and depressed to fend for myself,
driving up credit cards to afford bogus cures
because my government wouldn't invest enough
to find out if this was an AIDS-like retrovirus
as anyone who lived with it suspected it was.

("There's nothing wrong with your
autonomic nervous system!" "Thanks to oxycontin
you'll live in a box." "Don't sweat the small stuff!")

My doctors turned their heads,
turned them over to the head experts
because they didn't know what to look for,
not that the geniuses at Disease Control
had given them a handbook, but rather
told them we were neurotic and tired
and finally, furiously, they blamed us for it all.

(Isn't that what callous authority does
when it doesn't have the know-how?
It blames the victim...)

After that, you just stay home, you resist calling.
No matter how sick you get, you get through it.
You think, they've got nothing to offer me;
this is as good as it gets.
I may be housebound but I've got my films,
my music, my poems. I've got a kind husband who
brings me tea and kisses me on the forehead.

(Like an animal that gets sick, you want
to crawl away in the dark, but like a human being
you never forget your former life...)

Tonight I'm sailing down the Mississippi
on an old life raft patched with band-aids.
I'm still taking the pain meds. They want
me to see a psychiatrist next, assess the old
labels and chemical imbalances.
What I need is a miracle, a friend, and a
reasonably good doctor who believes me.

(Or I'll die like everybody else,
I'll go the way of old cfs-ers: a heart attack
or a gun and an old Indian song.)

We brown ones, we broken ones,
we Congolese girls, we Tanzanian fishermen,
we victims, we predators,
we addicted, we atheists,
we hungry, we homeless,
we gamblers, we murderers
we invalids, we children.

(Survival of the fittest in a
savage landscape, just so much water
in the common well...)

Mandan - Hidatsa Lodge, abandoned after smallpox outbreaks

Our day will come:

3 commentaires:

moigo a dit…


I am flattered by your dedication. But I'd like to suggest that it is primarily your spirit that keeps you going, that and those physically closest who do the many comforting things that mean so much. Your average doc is clueless and sometimes nasty, having been misinformed and disinformed and led to believe there's little to know. I understand the cuff being ripped off and the nurse exclaiming something like "great". That scene captures perfectly the experience of an internal reality so different from the common conception. It's difficult for anyone who has not been down the mystery illness road to grasp what it is like to be so sick yet so dissed. You encapsulate the ME experience to an amazing degree and in that way perform an educational service for those who have been basically slandered by federal agencies.

The landscape seems to be changing with research that supports the Science study. Hang in there, Laura.

Your friend,

Moineau En France a dit…

i do have a big spirit and refuse to let them quash it. and you have the intellect to comprehend what's really going on under the fog of misinformation, the veil of spin. you've brought me so much knowledge and understanding without which my spirit might have been made a glimmer of my former self. thus, you have made me accountable, and for it all i am so grateful. xoxoxoxoox

moigo a dit…

Thanks for this revised edition. Once again, I am honored by the dedication. Katrina is a brilliant metaphor for this ghastly experience - your couch (your residence)as something floating in the midst of devastation (yours and others). And the belief - they will come for us, they will come for us. You describe the thought course that people go through with this illness. Eventually, after much dissing and abuse from "authorities", one just wants to stay home and have some peace. We may yet be rescued before death. If nothing else, with recent developments you may be able to move from your couch onto the firm ground of being perceived as you really are.