Verse – MY HERO

The pain is constant
How can he hammer a nail
The middle of the stomach
Abdomen hurt first
How can he still care
About the chronic pain of others

Then he noticed his back ached
Why does he still write and give speeches
The aches spread around both his sides
Where will he fly next around the world
Habitats here peacemaking there
When did the CT scan confirm cancer

Pancreatic a quick killer
What will he teach this Sunday
The codeine cuts agony in half
But constipation adds new pain
Is his faith a factor
What is he smiling about

  • Steve Shoemaker, Urbana, IL, November 18, 2015

An acrostic verse: Missa Solemnis

“Missa Solemnis”

LORD HAVE MERCY begins the Mass
Under the baton of Maestro
Dean Craig Jessop. The last word: PEACE.
Wisdom and beauty from solo
Instrument, the mass choir, voice
Go to the top of Cathedral.

Vast walls of sound show pain also,
Arising from those who are cruel.
Nothing human escapes alto,

Bass and tenor and soprano.
Even a skeptic like Ludvig
Enlisted to create music,
Tries to make out of the tragic:
Hope, faith, love, kindness, and courage.
Overwhelmed by suffering, he
Values still signs of human will.
Even though stone deaf, he can be
Nurturing peace and harmony.

– Steve Shoemaker, Urbana, IL August 7, 2013

EDITOR’S NOTE: Craig Jessop is Dean of the College of the Arts at Utah State University, and former Director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

The List

“You have ca… You have can.. cancer. But we think it’s treatable.”

I read The List early this morning, the day after hearing a doctor tell a wonderful older couple the news. The full bone scan tells a different story. It can be treated with radiation, but at what price for an old man already writhing in unbearable pain? My friend has been on “the list” once before 20 years ago. Now he’s back on it, this time for good. He’s a strong man, but not that strong, not immortal, not invulnerable. The treatment will not stop it this time. Morphine and lots of love will see him through until he’s off the list for good.

My step-daughter, Katherine, was placed on “the list” at age 30. She was exited the list at 34. Her ashes are on the mantel now. Her courage, her buoyancy, her steadfast refusal to let being on “the list” define her, her compassion for the doctors and nurses who “treated” her with surgery, chemo, more surgery, radiation, lasers, and morphine, and for us, the members of the family to whom she brought so much delight, have left us with so much more than what’s left on the mantel.

I’ll post a piece written during the third year of Katherine being on “the list” later today. Look for “It’s raining; it’s pouring.”

For now, share your stories with a comment here, or go to Courteney Bluebird’s blog and comment there. All of her work is remarkable and worth the visit.