Our journey through the strokes 4-17-2021
Of Duct Tape and Drumsticks
Clown-clock hit the stroke of midnight,
of three, of someday, of never.
Cartoon hands point out you
might be out of time.
The second hand stops.
A soured cotton candy scent sticks
to the rooves of circus tents and mouths.
Inanities echo, worn battery voice stutters
about once-in-a-lifetime views of
captured mermen and real-live unicorns.
Bulbs flicker here and there, but, like a shade
pulled low over a window; faded, subtle.
Can't see the dirt in the half-light. Can't see
smeared smiles or empty promises.
Battered softballs lie in the mud, stitching
frayed, seams splitting. Jumbo stuffed
animals have all run away to hide.
Funhouse shoots bright flashes:
come in, come in-- only a quarter
of your time. Find your way through
our mirror maze. Shadows of the
lost and foundered flit across
distorted reflections. You are unrecognizable:
stretched, warped, skewed. A fraction off.
Stereopticon slide with mistimed pictures
confuses the eye. The preconceived
clashes with perceived. Half a second
behind in a race no one wins or catches fully up
as you careen down spiral staircases of
ice: where's the cotton candy now?
No rest breaks,
stopping would be the end of everything
as the world flashes by in a sepia-strobe light litany
of movie-still moments of manic madness. No life--
just a three-ringed circus of juggled memories
with long-forgotten seconds snapped
into place by the lion tamer's whip: but the lion
roams free now. You can feel his hot, moist breath
as you run, but the rides are all closed, and all
the clowns have come out to play.
You scream, but it is all in your head, you see.
No one can, or will, hear you.
Caught in a nightmare where the waking
will be wished but a dream because then
even the panicked running is all in your
dreams because you are locked in place,
can only flounder around, flapping, like
a trapped fish out of water. Tank is broken
and the oceans have all become deserts.
The strident carnival sounds fade away, the
tigers sleep on the folded circus tents.
A thought pops but is gone, leaving sticky
congealed buttery residue. No longer hot
yesterday's thought. The street sweeper comes.
The second hand moves and time reboots.
In retrospect, as our lives are intermingled,
a symbiotic dance--thus too, the first days
apre-stroke strung together in
unholy tangle of lights jumble
of thoughts, impressions, confusions.
On both, of both.
Each is lost, alone, finding their way blindly
through uncharted territory: one that is laden
with thought-mines, test-grenades, and worse,
the unending, gravity-defying roller-coaster
in the pitch black.
Words on repeat, endless loop,
knotting in my head, drowning out
all else. Deep black-caped voice:
you need to gather the family
gather the family.
No. No. No. Nonono!
New mantra: He'll be fine. He'll be fine.
He'll be fine. He'll be fine. He'll be fine. He'll be fine.
They take him for tests.
No one answers.
Never fast enough.
Never seen him vulnerable.
He's never felt vulnerable.
Neither of us likes any of this.
My rock is crumbling to sand in front of my eyes
and I don't have any glue.
I return in the morning with duct tape.
I tell him that he said it can fix anything.
He shakes his head.
I drop it in his lap. I put another roll
on his nightstand.
Later I take out a set of drumsticks.
Threaten lots of stick jokes. Glue jokes.
We can do this. We will. He will.
He can do this.
A litany of what I prayed
War rages. A fight to regain alongside
a fight to keep. Want battles cans and cants.
Two piled cubes a victory. Three a cause celebre.
Words dug out of the muck; molasses thinned
to allow a full, although slow, sentence.
Crooked smiles are so beautiful.
Bloodwork, Alphabet scans.
Repeated, as is the alphabet. He's never liked cats,
he jokes. Labs aren't too bad. Time for champagne!
Tests show the improbable.
Blocked artery rerouted itself.
Surgery had not been an option.
But then, he's never done anything
by the book. His sense of humor
is intact: he threw the book out, says he,
the writer's husband.
Feels so good to laugh.
We've come from mere hours or days
If you didn't know;
you wouldn't know.
I do though.
BP twice a day, meds
morning and night.
Refused to retire,
still works five days a week.
Last month on overtime.
Outworks many of the kids--
takes great pride in that.
Not quite up to Wipeout
on the drums, but he hasn't wiped out
and many of the songs he plays
are as the songs he drummed five years ago.
Been plying that same set of Ludwigs
for almost sixty years. Muscle memory
is great therapy. Drums in
getting as must of him back
And that's what's important:
drums and duct tape.
Sticking, no matter what.