Poem: Four Chambers


painted on a four chambered heart

each room an echo

a synchronized sharing of the apex

The fluttering climax

upon squeezing beats seeing beauty

And the hiccupping hitch

when gathering moments of newly formed love

Or the sudden thud

of rock dropping grief when its gone


Oh the silent tap tap

when at peace

hand upon your breast


that what you feel

is the artist

who paints your life



Poem: Taken


Within the echoed halls of grief

walking lost

looking for missing pieces

the clawing scrape


leaving traces of the beggar

the fallen

hollowed out

cut open and searching

for something that will never




Poem: Pulpous Moss

If I could be like a

Soppy sponge

Soaking up all the pain

Of my dear ones

Sucking away

The slithering cells

Bent on takeover

If I could ease

This battle

Help win the war

Shield my loves through

Weary wages

And lay my body

Upon their tired souls

Pulling every last drop

Of sick from them

If I could be like a

Pulpous moss

Soaking sneaking creeping


That cripple break and hinder

My love’s souls

These wormy slithering words

That dance in their minds

And tell them

What I know

Is not true

Ah to drag those

Thoughts by their

Wriggling tails away, away

And if I were like a

Deep vast well

To be filled

With my sweet’s woes

The intertwined

Connections of their

Love and sadness

Their loss and grief

Give it to me

To be their warden

The bearer

To stand steadfast

For them

While they





And weep

It will be my quest

To remain

Ever porous

To their needs

A open armed bowl

Ready to hold

All that wounds

My dears


As I sit here on my bed next to my buddy Pip, I know it will be one of my last nights with him. I’ve decided after speaking with the trainer at the humane society, that he needs to return there to be re-evaluated. Actually it was their suggestion, not mine. Last evening, when my three dogs came up to bed with me as they always do, my old dog (the beagle) lay down on his bed on the floor. My daughter, who lives with me now with her boyfriend, came in to talk to me. Pip, my puggle, attacked my beagle for no apparent reason. It was completely unprovoked as Brinkley was sleeping. This is not the first time, but it was particularly vicious. A huge fight ensued between them. Even blood was shed, not much, but still.

It was traumatic for all of us, including my poor third dog, who sat there shivering. I was pretty stunned after we were able to get them apart without getting injured ourselves. I managed to get the beagle downstairs to safety where he slept unhappily for the rest of the night. Honestly, I can’t trust Pip by himself, so he slept upstairs.

But the worst of it is, that he’s nipped at me a few times. His aggression has been mounting and this is what concerned the trainer. From the very first visit with my two dogs to the humane center, this pushy behavior was noticed. And this trainer said that the current three months I’ve had Pip is the ‘honeymoon’ phase where he has been testing the waters to see how far he can push. Last night he pushed the limits.

While I’m very sad, because he has some wonderfully endearing traits too, the house has been on edge. I lived alone before him and actually had the kids come live here because of him! His anxiety and inability to separate and potty train made it impossible for him to be alone for long periods of time. So now I have kids here and he won’t be here anyway! Sheesh. So I really tried hard to accommodate him. But I still feel guilty. I’ve only surrendered two other dogs, both for biting also, but it was after a few days.

My hope is that they can find a great home for him maybe with only him being the only dog. Maybe one or two people who will be home a lot. He needs an active home and lots of attention. I only hope I’m not sending him to a death sentence. That thought just puts me over the edge….. But it simply is not fair to my two other dogs who have lived here much longer. They are miserable. So buddy, I wish you well. I tried and I’m sorry. I truly hope you find your forever home.

How Do We Deal?

With the latest shooting, I don’t know where to begin to deal with my emotions. I was at work sitting at my computer where I usually am when I’m not on the ambulance or working around the station when I saw the news. Like everyone, I was horrified, hit by depths of sadness and overwhelmed by a sense of disbelief. Why? That is what we are all asking–on a seemingly daily basis. Why, does this keep happening?

And people of my generation keep saying and feeling that it didn’t seem to happen as much when I was younger. But I’m not here to talk about the why’s. We could argue that until we are blue in the face: too many guns, not enough gun control, too much internet or lack of control on the internet, poor health care system for mentally ill people. Whatever it may be, all I know is that it is happening and innocents are being slaughtered at an alarming rate.

I looked at the photos that were shot on the scene. And just like when I heard the news all I could do was cry. The faces of the people show the pain and senselessness of it all. Then I think five seconds beyond the initial horror to the job I would have to do if I was responding to that scene and I just am not sure I want to be part of the human race any longer. I see that, too, in the faces of the fire fighters and EMT’s/paramedics and police. My fear are the pictures that are conjured in the minds of the family members, the co-workers, the play-mates, the community members and anyone involved. Sadly these images will last a life time. And the holidays forever a reminder.

Do these shooters have any clue when they do these things and the long-range reverberations that are caused?  They are so often killed themselves in the event, so we can’t get in their minds. Do they only think in the moment that they act? Our questions will echo in our heads and hearts just like the bullets that sounded in that school today. But unlike the bullets which only cause death and endings, questions help us to heal and create changes.

So how do we deal? How do we find solace in something so inexplicable? How do we go on and find joy when others suffer so greatly? Some have their religion. Some their families. Some never do. Yet some take a monstrous event like this and create a way to help others out of it. I can only hope these families find some way to find their joy and peace again someday. And that maybe somehow we come to learn the ‘whys’ of these events so we can eliminate them. Until then, I try desperately to hold on to that strand of hope I have in humankind–that somewhere in us kindness remains. Please let me be right!

Would I Die Gracefully?

As I look into the haunted eyes of my friend, I know he sees the beast is close behind ready to take him down and devour him. He’s close-he knows it and I know it. I’ve said before that I know the look of dying, but never in the eyes of one I care for so much. And I now wonder how dying would change me.

I’ve always thought that I could be very brave. I believe that dying is completely a part of the natural cycle. We can’t live without dying. You know-the two things we can count on: dying and taxes. It’s never scared me (except maybe being murdered or being eaten by an animal). But suddenly, watching my friend dying and seeing his fear has made me wonder about how I would act if I knew I was dying.

Being told you only have so much time left has to be an incredible burden to carry. Especially if one feels they haven’t nearly lived the life they wanted to live, or done most the things they had hoped. It has been text-book watching my friend go through the stages of grief, although he hasn’t reached the acceptance stage yet. He’s been so ill lately and the ‘end’ has only really just begin to hit. He’s passing through the anger part now. He’s tossing it out at his loved ones. Maybe to help push them away to help prepare them for a life without him. And also because he’s angry that the beast has him in his grip I suspect. But none of these things are conscious on his part…it’s only part of the process.

Would I get angry? It makes me sad to think I would push my children away from me in the end. I would hope I didn’t, but I can’t venture to guess what that road would be like. I can only say if part of the anger comes from being cut off from life too early, then it only reinforces my belief to live life to its fullest every day so you have no regrets should it end too soon. Leaving with bitterness can’t be good karma.

My friend walks with the beast now beside him all the time. If only the love that surrounds him could help to cage the beast just for a bit more. To let my friend smile some more, let go of his sorrow and pain and gain some of his strength back. If he could find some joy somewhere in all this, maybe his dying could be less painful. If he could remember good times, take his good moments now and treasure them and let us help him come to a place of acceptance, then maybe the beast doesn’t really win in the end.

A Hard Process

In the jobs I have had in my life I have been up close and personal with death on many occasions. As a paramedic for many years I’ve seen people die in traumatic accidents, I’ve had my hands on chests that have pumped their last heart beat and I’ve even had patients tell me they were going to die and they did. My position as a Medical Examiner took me even one step closer to death, the families and their grief. Because at this point, they knew their loved one was truly gone. When we pick them up on the ambulance, they still have hope we can save them–but when I would come wearing my other hat–the Medical Examiner hat, there was no mistaking death.

So I’m no new comer when it comes to dying: I’ve seen it, smelled it, touched it, tried to stop it from happening. I’ve cried with families, consoled people, put my lips on babies to try to breathe life back into them. You could say I’m comfortable with death if one can ever be so. At least I’m not afraid of it.

But now I am experiencing something different and I’m trying to cope with it. And that is to watch a dear friend of mine dying of cancer. Not only is he a friend, but he is a Captain of mine on the fire department.  So at times I am his friend, other times his caregiver. It’s a fine line.

Cancer always plays games. It was a ‘bad’ cancer to begin with, but he was a fighter, so we were all hopeful. And fight he did, and rally and beat some good odds. He’s gone on way longer than anyone said he should. He had the love of being a fire fighter that kept him going, so go he did. But with cancer, it seems, there is only so much one can play those odds. And then the beast takes over.

While he has changed some physically, it’s his personality and will that is so hard to watch diminish. We took him to the emergency room again today and I broke down crying in front of one of our ER doctors. It’s just hard to know he’s in pain, has given up, isn’t himself, is discouraged and feels badly he’s burdening us. Of course we don’t care–we want to help him, but he doesn’t want our help. He just wants to be his old self…and of course, that’s what we all want too.

I have no idea how I will deal when the end comes near. While I know death inside and out and have shaken hands with the grime reaper more times than I care to know–in this case I just want to tell him he’s got the wrong guy. To take his cancer, pack it up and toss it in some garbage dump. Let my Captain heal and be well.

But I know this won’t happen and I have to prepare myself for the inevitable and try to help him through the process of dying. It’s not the same as someone I don’t know and love. It hurts a whole lot more and I can’t feel comfortable around  this one or compartmentalize it. It’s too close. For his sake though, I will be strong. And take care of him until the end.