Posts Tagged ‘confidence’


Saturday, October 11th, 2008

Funny thing about confidence: you don’t really know you’ve lost it until you start getting it back. Without an inner voice constantly whispering a “you can do it” nag, a hypercautious agony aunt takes over and plunges you into a fog of jitters. Auntie has excuses for everything. “No, no, no!” she hisses. “Be careful!” “Oh, you really shouldn’t go out tonight. You’re not quite recovered you know!” “Of course you shouldn’t feel guilty about not taking that bike ride! Look at what you’ve been through!” Eventually this irritating scold owns you so completely you cringe at the risks involved with everything. “Be careful of that tea now, it’s hot!” “Don’t trip on that step!”

Unless you had the misfortune to be raised wary (or had a very difficult childhood, the same thing), auntie’s isn’t the default human condition. (more…)

Off topic: Cycling Back, a poem

Saturday, August 30th, 2008

Though it is not my intention when I started writing poems, a number of my attempts have wound up with medical themes (go figure). This is one of my earlier poems, written a few months after I experienced a near-life-ending bout of pneumonia. Each time I survive some new calamity and return to my bike I remember this poem, re-read it, re-live it. Yes, it really happened. This version was tweaked in May, 2007.


Cycling Back

You climb, standing hard on the pedals
for leverage, each cycle a notch into the sky
hovering at the hill’s pitch. Lungs burn

a shirt sticks to your back, blood moves
hot through thighs, an intoxicating dance.
‘To hell with the burning’ you tell yourself

“I’ll make the point and the other side”
and one breath pushes on another and limits
are driven out of mind – then it happens.

You are in a pale peach room. A lonely
window cut too high opens onto a wall
and forty inches of gray sky. You’ve had days

to make that measure but from a distance
for tubes creep into your arms and snake up your nose
and you long to rip them out but you know

know inside a moment or an hour or three
you’ll have to turn on your side or a nurse
will plant another thermometer or God forbid

you’ll have to speak, if only to say “I am tired
and cannot breathe.” The tubes are lifelines –
you let them stay. Three grave doctors appear,

hover, stare as if at a curiosity. One frowns
holds out his palms. “We can do no more.”
Another’s head quivers. “It is up to you.”

Minutes pass. A life is balanced.

And somewhere you find some thing
you thought was lost, some thing to push against,
some thing as solid as this bike’s pedals

some thing to push you to the hill’s crest
and the relief of the plateau. Another cycle
another, one more turn around the wheels

and here you are, at the precise point
where the sky meets elegant homes with porticos
and groomed gardens and the Bay at last

reveals itself. You catch your breath and drink
and wonder how many times you’ll climb that hill
before you can do it without spending time

in the pale peach hospital room with its oxygen
and thermometers and those doctors, their faces
all twisted and professional with concern.


I’ve published Cycling Back with a Creative Commons license.
You can print the poem but you can’t rewrite it and  you can’t publish it without contacting me.

Creative Commons License