Prescriptive Poems

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Illness

Please cure me
end these surrealist fever dreams
the nightly tossing and turning
my body wracked by contortions
heart spasms erratic and eclectic.

Please make me well again
scrub my throat thoroughly of its dead words
clear my skull so stuffed with guncotton
pull the smog from my lungs
through artificial diffusion.

Please give me rest
lift my leaden skeleton
lay me on the bed
melt the tension in my muscles
let the fires burn down

so that when I wake
cool with morning dew
I will be whole.

***

Medication

I find myself
in chalk pellets and capsule contents
unseen, taken in good faith
with glasses of water,
sometimes food.
The schedules vary.

I press on blisters, pop caps,
dab fingers in flyless ointments,
enlist the help of whatever remedy
concocts itself before me.

These are the tools, the alchemical weapons
with which doctors conquer illness,
injury, and death, made available
to the public for the price of paper scraps
and whatever the insurance doesn’t cover.

I am well equipped.
I shall not falter.
I shall not back down.
Confronted with the slow decay of my body,
I shall fight back
through any means necessary.

***

Whirlpool

dammed stream of consciousness
running in circles, eroding walls
oxbow commas disrupting flow
scattered capitals riding tidal waves
rising waterlines and faded marks
stained backgrounds, salt-sprayed edges
the fibrous ropes wear thin
as the water creeps into their braids
their knotted array untangling
decks warped, boards splintering
nothing left but to go down with the ship

***

I’ve been sick for the past several days, which is why there wasn’t a post last Sunday and why this one is late. Sorry about that.

I don’t like being sick. Even more than the usual visible symptoms, I hate the feeling of fatigue and general “fogginess” that comes with any illness. It makes it hard to focus, especially on things like reading and writing, both of which I quite enjoy.

Sometimes, particularly when a cough or cold has dragged on for a few days, I get rebellious. I decide that a particular sickness has gotten the better of me for too long, and now I’m going to fight back. So I push through the fogginess, at least to the best of my ability, and I write.

I don’t necessarily hold myself to a high standard in these writing sessions, but I find that they help. Perhaps the act of reasserting control over my mental faculties and denying the agency of the illness is almost self-evidently therapeutic. Or perhaps it’s a sort of placebo effect, where it makes me feel better because I expect it’s going to make me feel better.

In any case, each of the above poems was written at least partially under the influence of some illness or another. All three of them were finished today, while I’m recovering from a particularly persistent cough of some kind. I hope you enjoy them, whether you’re currently sick or not.

 

Author: Mitchell

I'm 22 and currently pursuing my MA in Creative Writing at the University of Toronto.

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