Sunday, July 16, 2017

Are You Dying?

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Are You Dying?


Call it a thoughtful moment, one perhaps long overdue;
I saw her out and about, and spoke in turn, as if on cue,
"If you don't mind me saying, you are looking nice tonight."
She stopped dead in her tracks, asked if she'd heard me right?

I suppose a compliment coming from me seemed out of place,
and this was not the first time I'd noticed her pretty face.
Granted, for an instant I felt empowered; I cast a smile,
I was expecting one in return. She said, "Not your style."

Normally, I would back up. I just asked what she was implying.
She ruined the entire mood, asking me, "Hey, are you dying?
Seriously, if something is wrong, tell me. I need to hear.
As much as you annoy me, I don't want to see you disappear."


I shook my head from side to side, and quietly walked away.
For all intents and purposes, it should have ended that day,
but I could not get those words she said, out of my head;
I was in the best health of my life, no thoughts of being dead.

For years, I had prided myself on being cynical, as intended;
while it is considered part of my charm, some get offended,
but really, all they need do is chill, and consider the source.
I was comfortable in my sarcastic skin, for better or worse.

It took her little time to share her viewpoint, so slanted;
soon, our small circle of friends feared I would be planted.
Phone calls and text, social media remarks, coming my way,
mostly beating around the bush, wondering how I felt today?


"What's the matter," "Have you seen a doctor?" "How do you feel?"
Honest to goodness, this couldn't be happening, but it was real.
No matter at the efforts I expended, I was not able to deflect.
I treated each one with kid gloves, showing nothing but respect.

My smart ass persona fell by the wayside, as if put in reverse.
Wouldn't you know, that only served to make the situation terse.
Now each was witnessing my "transformation" in person, firsthand,
at how conciliatory I had become, though this was not planned.

Eventually, the sad tidings brought about a negative effect.
I began to ponder the eventual outcome of my real health neglect.
It was a good thing I had insurance, and a decent pharmacy deal;
two visits to a doctor, a sniffle and a physical; spin the wheel.


I stopped taking calls and messages, setting my sites to "away,"
putting my social life on hold, going straight home at end of day,
opting to sit in the dark and dwell, or cast a mirror a glance;
became a bonafide germaphobe, not about to take a chance.

With no one available, I turned to the mirror to plead my case.
"On the verge of pushing up daisies, can you see it on my face?
Am I about to check out in the near future? Look into my eyes!
Tell me what I need to know, and be straight; tell me no lies."

We worked it out, that glass and me. I'd fallen prey to a ruse,
and it was up to me to turn it all around; I just had to choose.
Determined to get my feet on, not under, solid ground, but how,
was yet to be determined. I needed a believable way to disavow.


I put my master plan together, one that was cunning and bold.
She stepped forward with a revelation that put my move on hold.
She said, "If anyone should sense sarcasm, it was you the most.
That line about you dying was a joke, about giving up the ghost."

This startling revelation she brought, left me dead in my stance.
Was she conciliatory, ridding herself of guilt perhaps by chance,
or was she cleverly spinning my dial, to yet another station,
to leave me further bewildered, toward a deeper resignation?

We eventually worked it out, that girl, the mirror and me.
I found an acceptable attitudinal ground, for all to see.
I still see the girl on weekends, when our schedules allow,
so all things considered, at least I'm not dead to her now.


Michael Todd (2017)

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Swimming With the Sharks (for Lainey)

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Swimming With the Sharks (for Lainey)


Swimming with the sharks, what an adventure,
when time comes to finally run a race;
a brief respite for those without a cure;
apples not oranges, footing not sure,
a time to redefine goal of first place.

A lesson in charades, for those static,
gladly given up. They know from the start,
all are not measured by the same yardstick;
will make sure today is less traumatic;
swimming with the sharks, worthy counterpart.

A moment to compete, not hide away,
on top of the world, season to define;
to enter in the game, come out and play;
daring to move, keeping the wolves at bay,
ground beneath, showing way to finish line.

When swimming with the sharks, choose to swim deep,
disregarding conventional rule sets.
There are arenas which welcome black sheep,
where the losers rejoice and victors weep.
Provided, this is a good as it gets.

Michael Todd (2017)

Disclaimer: The prompt for this poem was given to me by Lainey. I asked her for an idea. She responded with "swimming with the sharks." Not long after, I saw a video of several instances where people who were physically or mentally challenged, were taking part in athletic endeavors.

There was one where a basketball player got a rebound, and went the length of the court, and on the third try, hit a shot. Players from both teams gave him time and space. When that shot went in, players from both teams celebrated, along with the crowd. It was a magical moment in time.

There were several other defining moments in the video, but the one that got to me was when a player scored a goal in a soccer game, and immediately ran across the field, removed his team jersey, and gave it to a fan, confined to a wheel chair. I had great respect for that player. I have great respect for all of the individuals I saw in the video. I have tremendous respect for those who are impeded and cannot compete on an apples to apples level, but still give it their best.

And as for those who encourage them, I have no proper words to describe, other than to say, to me, they are the finest people, and worthy of acclaim, but odds are good, they don't want or need that.