“Just take a couple of Tylenol”

sorry, i can’t go today, i have a migraine

“Just take a couple of Tylenol,  you’ll be fine in a bit.”

no, not a headache, a migraine, tylenol won’t help with this

“Why do you always have to cancel out of our plans because of a headache? We’ve been planning on going to this since last month and now you have a headache. Just take something for it and let’s get going.”

no, I don’t have anything i can take for this, nothing helps it, i have to go lay down in a dark room and stay still and quiet for the rest of the day, sorry

“You’re always sorry, but that doesn’t help. Now I’ll have to see if I can find someone else to go with me or I’ll have to go by myself. Thanks! Well, you have a grand old time with your headache, you and your dark room!”

yes, it’s a lot of fun lying here in my dark room with my head pounding away like a balloon that’s too big to fit inside trying to get out, and my stomach trying to come back up my throat, and chills that are so cold that even the heat of this summer day can’t reach me and my bones ache

i lay as still as i can so that the dizziness doesn’t take over and make my whole world spin until all i can see is gray

i try to drift into sleep and hope that the doorbell doesn’t ring or my phone doesn’t buzz or i don’t get any texts, it would be painful to hear the sound and too much effort to answer the call of the outside world, my world has shrunk to just me and my pain under the cocoon i have created with the duvet, my cat curled at my side adding her heat to my tiny space and keeping the frost away

i have found a status quo that seems almost bearable as long as no one disturbs it, fragile as a snowflake before sunrise on a windowpane, where the slightest change will tip the scales of my equilibrium

jee 9.2018



Root and Branch

cropped birth certificate

My eyes burn and the clock ticks,

and still, I cannot find the right little baby named, Harriet.

I don’t even know if I have the right mother,

and still, I search for this elusive little girl with one or two “t”s.

And I already have five James,

who could be her father, her brother, or her son.

And when once I have narrowed it down

to the proper Harriet,

the one with the proper number of children,

with just the proper names,

I will work on another branch.

Or is it a root? Heavens, I sound like a gardener!

Next, I’ll be pruning, watering, and fertilizing things.

Watching to see things grow.

Digging up things that have died.

No, no time for that.

I’m off to rescue fair Joanna,

a Coffin born, yet buried a Knight.

Not for lack of trying mind, I was bound and determined

she would be a Lunt,

but no, not our fair Joanna.

And did it in style with eleven children,

almost all of them boys to go into the Navy.

So, what next? Walk through another cemetery?

Check on that date of death?

Or should I switch to something really challenging,

and go looking for lost Uncle Harry

in Florida? Texas? ??

no pain..

I woke and paused to send a thread of thought out.

No pressure.  No squeezing.  No stabbing or throbbing.

No pain..   I hesitated to move for fear it would sneak up on me

as it had been doing for the past eight days.

Finding me in my weakest moments.

Just when I thought I might be free.

This time it seemed to be gone,

really gone.

Not just waiting for me to make the wrong move and set off

more pain..

that would send me back under the covers,

into the dark and quiet womb of my bedcovers.

Back to search for numbing blackness

with just the top of my head sticking out of the pile

to keep my head cool

to keep my head from overheating and exploding again.

Perhaps I could attempt to sit up – to see

if today I might be free from its grip.

I gently pushed back the covers and pushed myself up.

Tentatively taking in a breath of air, testing my limits.

A small stretch.

And then a bigger one to get out the kinks in my shoulders

from hunching under covers for so long.

Just to sit and blink at the morning light,

and listen to the morning birdsong

with no flinching or cringing. No pain..


Cultivated Carefully by Hand

What does it look like?

I don’t know what to look for!

They say I need it. To find it.

They had all kinds of suggestions

about where and how to find one.

But none of them said a word

about what it looked like.

It’s a seed, so I’m assuming

it’s quite small, tiny even.

Maybe curled inside a shell

of curved black parentheses?

Will I find a packet of them at the garden store?

All neatly labeled with planting instructions?

Or do they have to be collected in the wild,

cultivated carefully by hand?

I’ve been looking ever so long

for my seed of a poem.


Prompt: Shock

I’ve found just that right position.

The covers are up just so.

My pillow is at the perfect angle.

And I close my eyes and allow my mind to drift…


I let my breathing slow.

I feel my heart do so, too.

I let go of that last bit of tension.

My mind has stopped processing at warp speed…


My focus seems fuzzy.

Darkness is descending nicely.

And then there is the shock

Of nine pounds of black fur and purr pouncing…


I jolt and stiffen for a moment.

She circles once kneading my feet.

Into a black fur ball of warmth.

Once again darkness descends nicely on me…


Sounds on a Quiet Morning

Sounds on a Quiet Morning

4:00 a.m. “I need the car today, honey. Brian texted me.”

The cat still curled up between my feet

but wakeful, watching all.

Rustling of sheets and duvet as he tosses it all over to my side

Ahhh, hhuuuu, “14-15-16-17”, ahhh, prffft, “28-29-30” thud, hhuuu, “27-28-29-30” thud, ugghh, “7-8-9-10-11”hhuuh, thud, burp, “excuse me”, ahh, hhuuuh, thud, ahhh, hhuu, thud, ahhhh, “10-11-12-13” prfft, “excuse me”, hhuh, thud

Rustle, rustle, TUG and half the bed is made…maybe.

I feel the cat stir at my feet.

I hear the SNAP of elastic for his gym shorts and his struggle with his socks, then the slide of feet into sneaks,

and the cat is off the bed and bounding.

Thump, thump, thump down the hall and stairs to the kitchen.

It’s finally breakfast time.

Strides down the hall and thumps down each of the six stairs,

the squeal of the pantry door and rattle of cat food hitting a tin dish.

Crack, crack, crack as she eats like a starving animal who doesn’t know where her next meal will come from.

Thumps down six more stairs

click, and the woosh of the front door

as he’s off to the gym when it opens at 5.

And I doze in a quiet house.

The cat returns shortly and settles into a nest in the blankets near my feet after making her dainty way all the way from my shoulder down to my feet.

6 a.m. Back from the gym, the door wooshes closed,

and the inner door click, and each shoe

hits the stairs, all the way up, all 12

blowing and huffing, sweaty clothes

are pulled off and stuffed in the laundry bag.

Sneakers to the corner and strides down the hall

to the shower – we really need to fix that

squeaky faucet, I think once again,

as the curtain rings CLATTER across the rod.

From the other room comes the third snooze

and the sound of tags on the dog’s collar

clanking their metallic clink as she stretches

and shakes it out for the first time today.

Soft padding a few whispers before

the back door s-l-i-d-e-s and a little bark escapes

and is quickly hushed by a loud whisper

“Go do your business”, I’m sure…

THUNK, and the water ceases…pat, pat, pat…

Clatter, clunk, clatter, click and the dog is chowing down.

…rub, rub, rub and the towel slides on to the rod,

a tiny squeak and some splashing water…

Clunk, clatter, click, clatter and the ka-woosh of

the fridge says she’s got breakfast, too.

…and I hear toothpaste and bristles over teeth.

Then water and the CRUNCH and squeak-CLUNK

as the crushed cup hits its target and the lid closes.

Soft padding and metallic clinks,

A click and she and her dog are tucked away in her room again.

Strides along the hall and the s-l-i-d-i-n-g door

travels across its metal course and CLICK

the closet light shines forth –

on my side of the bed, of course.

But I’m prepared, a veteran of many

such mornings,

and I’m already rolled in my cocoon of blankets

the cat still at my feet

facing away from the cruel closet light.

Click, click, click, and the sliding of fabric on skin,

the clatter of his belt buckle nipped into place

and the twist-twist-twist of his tie.


and the closet door makes its way

across – the – metal – course.

Strides along the hall and a “Good morning, Girl”

to the dog, whose day has now started – free of the bedroom

Click, click, click of little claws

as she checks on all her people and places to be sure all’s secure.

Clatter, clatter, slurp, sip, clunk,

and his breakfast is done

with the morning news that he kindly shares with us all.

“Have a good day, dear, I love you” he calls

click, and the woosh of the door

and he’s gone for another day

Ca-lick, ca-lick, zip, zzip, clink, click,

“Bye, baby, I love you, love you Mom, bye, Zuzu, take care!”


click, and the woosh of the front door

and she’s gone for another day.

7:00 ahhh, a quiet morning, so nice to sleep in…beep-beep-beep, beep-beep-beep