I light a candle

For all those who bear the burden of pain
creeping upward through sleep & outward through the day
mindless & brutal
without compromise
joints locking & failing
fire-flicker of shingles
body-soaking drudgery of fibro
tooth pain from poverty & fear & never being taught self-care
old injuries, x marks the spot where you came off your bike
& broke something
& now you have a weather-vane set steady in your bone
the pain, once mental & now physical, of loneliness & abandonment
hugs that are virtual, smiles that are absent

gnawing cancer
migraines starring the heavens when there is no light
cluster headaches killing your will as an elephant throws down a shack

for all those who live in pain from noise & dirt & rudeness
& can’t find much in civility to ease it

guts knotted, cramping & sinister & tiring
the imprisonment of arthritis & the ‘overdoing it’

adhesions & keloids & the pain of being ugly, being useless
drawing tiny breaths because big breaths hurt

the pain of not being believed that you’re in pain
& then you’re given an addiction, as well as the pain
& now pivot between addiction & pain like a mechanical bird

funnybone & needlestick & central line

diffusely aching elders forcing themselves upright in the morning

itching pain, skin rashes

lying in bed with a hot water bottle
while your cervix crushes out the wine of ‘not this month’

endometriosis & you as a warrior emerging from a bath
of inconsiderate hormones

the times as a child you lay in bed & cried because you could hear your bones growing

earaches chasing all contentment from your toddler
putrid sore throats & burning bronchi

goddamned paper cuts & cat wounds gone septic
dog bites & thoughtlessly scratched-off bug bites

Foot pain as all those little compressed bones make their displeasure known
ingrown toenails, bunions, plantar fasciitis, charley horses

Knees that click & fail

Horse kicks & bites, all the farmer’s ailments
unprivileged by weather
now’s the time to do something & pain must be endured

Repetitive strains – hands & forearms, necks & backs
we are all of us little loci of hurt and debility

eyes of sand & photophobia

mouth sores, brushed against by teeth
& pinging in the sensorium like a red light on a street corner

embarrassed people who don’t want to say
it hurts when I pee, when I screw, when I poo & I don’t know what to do
& I don’t want to talk to you
or anyone about it

Pain tells you you’re unfit, & then you get the message again
& again
& again
from the TV, the city walls, the casual blunderings of friends
the sharp hashtags of your unfriends
& you, your body telling you
not today the grocery shop or the trip to the vet
not today the movie with friends and the beer at the pub
not today
not today
not today
& probably not tomorrow

The pain of knowing what you think isn’t true
& the drugs to drag the truth back to your thinking will stack on pounds
& kill your sex drive
& hurt you in all the wild free places you still have in your brain
the pain of knowing your compliance is convenience & not much else

The pain of trying to get strong enough to be independent again
& it’s never going to happen
& the choice is always, endlessly
pain or death

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Born when atmospheric carbon was 316 PPM. Settled on MST country since 1997. Parent, grandparent.

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