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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

How Poems Get Their Titles

Below is a Normaphoto of me this past Wednesday writing a poem on a little tablet (at right elbow) furnished free by the Hospital. For reasons perhaps discernible to keen observer, I had tentatively entitled it Not My Finest Hour --but found myself scribbling it around a better title, also furnished free, "Quehaceres", Spanish for Tasks, subtitled "To do..."
Here is a picture of the first draft of "Quehaceres":

Then it occurred to me that it was a to-do list that got me into the fix I was in. It was Tuesday, the 15th, and I decided to attack the most frightening problem in the most frightening room of this crazy old farmhouse. The old w.c. wax flange had spread and failed. Water got into the subfloor. If that could be corrected before the holiday, there would be sincere thanksgiving ahead. I went out and bought a new neoprene gasket to replace the old wax one, some lumber and --in case of protracted inconvenience-- a "Lug-a-loo", much used and roundly hated by campers.

I only neglected some minor details. I am in my late 60s, asthmatic and run on a pacemaker tuned to music to relax by. It was well into evening before everything was braced up and tightened down --functional at least-- and I settled at the kitchen table to read a bit, kick back and gasp for breath.  Many years ago, a therapist taught me a breathing technique she guaranteed would make panic attacks impossible. It always worked too, so I tried it and had a panic attack. About 1 a.m., I was feeling a bit restless and decided an ambulance ride might calm me down --and, what the heck, why not visit ER for a few hours and see how things are going in ICU until Thursday?

Couple days ago, a perceptive and valued commenter at one of my poetry sites recognized neglect there and opined it was suffering from "drought".  This surpassed prior estimates (including Acidosis)  and was adopted as the title for the poem:            

                                              Drought

Drought, it hides 
Out underfoot
In tortured roots,
Science, in art,
And doubt, faith
And overhead in
Dry trees where 
We seek the living
Sky from our knees.
                        ************************
So, let's remember, there's nothing wrong with "to-do" lists, but at certain stages of age and caducity their authors will find themselves rewarded by careful editing before leaping into action -- and thus avoid overdoing.  Or one might simply hire a contractor. In neither course can the effect of bathroom repairs on the enigma of poem titles be measured accurately without a survey of the entire universe. Something to keep in mind when tempted to "do-it-yourself". 

25 comments:

  1. I never 'do it myself'' if there is any possibility of getting someone else to do it..hence my 'to do' list is very short and my panic attacks completely unknown. I love your poems but I don't want to read any more brought on by trips to the emergency department of your local hospital.

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    1. Good policy, Delores. I am belatedly learning to delegate tasks, and doing better. It is still comforting to have good medical care close by --it fits in with Norma's plan to fix me up a little more and then sell me.

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  2. Hi Geo - glad it wasn't too awful after all that - but must be difficult to have a willing mind, yet a progressive caducity is not a helpful symptom ... which comes to us all - I shall now take extra care for all my do-it-yourself projects ...

    All the best and hope you can have a happy Thanksgiving - Hilary

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    1. Thanks, Hilary. My frolic with respiratory distress should in no way dampen the holiday. All best wishes to you too!

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  3. As they say, the devil is in the details. They bear watching. I'm glad you are back home and, presumably, both wiser and wearing less holey garments. Take care of yourself, Geo.

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    1. O Jenny, the devil-detail adage has never been truer. I wore my own pajama bottoms to the hospital but the fashionable top with peekaboo arms was their Idea.

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    2. I'm back, re-reading, and marvelling again at your capacity for understatement. "a bit restless" indeed.

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  4. We have our lucky stars to thank this holiday that A) your wonderful humor and wit continue to serve you (and us) well, B)Ambulance rides take you to nice and helpful people) C) the WC works and so do you, still, D)your attire can be adjusted for Thanksgiving. Take good care. You are a precious resource....

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    1. Kind Tom, thank you. I do indeed have much to be thankful for --your excellent online company included.

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  5. I tend to do all my own jobs (except post-fire restoration) and so my to-do list is always long and worrisome. But for heavens sakes Geo, do look after yourself. You're still a mere stripling of a lad - well almost. :)

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    1. I have followed your stair-fire repairs and progression through emergency lodgings with much admiration for your resiliency. I believe you approach to-do lists and inquiries into existence with the same calm fortitude.

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  6. I am happy to know you are resting and healing. Perhaps it is time for some of your kind neighbors to give you a hand.

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    1. Friday, neighbors and I completed selling off easement rights to the south creek to the county. We're all getting older and happy to transfer riparian maintenance to the Parks Dept. So we're working on it, Emma. Big load off us.

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  7. A nebulizer with I'm guessing albuterol and a v-necked hospital gown. The height of fashion.
    Ticker have any issues with this?
    Judas H. Priest, Geo. Go to bed at an earlier hour and leave the manual labor to the alt right, let it kill them, not us.
    Oh, btw. There is a recent study, peer reviewed in a notable journal, that indicates GOP doctors have a lower survival rate of patients in critical care.....

    Mike

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    1. Your "guess" is of course correct, Mike. Ticker? I didn't know, but when I figured CO2 was taking over and decided to call an ambulance I couldn't rule it out --was also afraid to go to bed or lose consciousness. Sadly, I'm not surprised at the GOP doc. study. Wonder who thought of it.

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  8. DIY? Not something with which I am overly familiar. Any DIY carried out (ha! carried out? - never finished, more like) by my other half has turned into a disaster, if not instantly, then by and by.

    Hope you’re all better. Next time, get a man in.

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    1. Dear Friko, yes, the education of men consists largely of one disaster after another. We never seem to foresee them --which is why we consult women. Yes, I am better, thank you, and will follow your advice in the future.

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    2. I'm with Friko. Hire someone, G. Many can do the task of fiddling with neoprene gaskets (did I get that right?) but there's only one person who can write these posts and poems. Save him for the things for which he is uniquely qualified.

      With all deference,
      --The Countess.

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    3. Kind Suze, Yes, Neoprene, and you may be assured I did not leave for hospital without installing gasket correctly. But also, Norma has convinced me not to continue the outdoor digging part --she will call the contractor herself. She forcefully reminds me I am broken, not broke --but will say no more or she'll never be able to sell me.

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  9. Oh my, Geo, I am so sorry to read this and to see that you in the hospital. Why, when we know we really shouldn't do certain things anymore, we do them anyway. This year, because of the way things are going, I have given the opportunity to some small businesses, to do some jobs that I previously did with out giving it a thought. I found that it is a delight to see what young people can do in an hour which had previously taken me a day.

    Take care, dear Geo, and stay out of hospitals. They wake you up so early there and the food is not exactly gourmet, especially that green wiggly stuff.

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    1. Dear Arleen, you're quite right, of course, and sometimes I need an object lesson in life-changes. I had one this past week. I shall try to adjust, even to green wiggly stuff --but this Tuesday evening brings yet another strange enigma, covered in the next post. It may require hospitalization for my laptop, but not for my lap. That is progress, yes?

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  10. There are lots of good things to say about being older, but it's a rude awakening when we realize our bodies can no longer carry out the great plans we so optimistically conceive in our minds.

    Take care of yourself, dude. No more hospitals!

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    1. True, Susan. Also, I just sent off photocopies of my insurance cards to the local Metro Fire Station in response to their bill for my ambulance ride --5 miles,$2300. Beats hitchhiking though.

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  11. I firmly believe that God knew what he was doing when he created plumbers, electricians, handymen, and car mechanics, Geo. And I honor that by using them whenever possible. Nothing makes me more nervous than watching my husband try to fix something because he thinks that's what men are supposed to do. My hubby is one man God forgot to bless with tool man skills. "Nuff said.

    I'm glad you came through okay ~ Please try to stay out of the hospital. We all need your wit and humor in our lives for a long time!

    I was thinking of you and your crazy, funny socks at Christmas. My sister Donnie got crazy, funny socks for everyone. Mine say "I'm a delicate fucking flower." I always think of you whenever I see such socks. Did they give you the non-slip yellow socks to go with that oxygen mask? That's what I always get whenever I land in the hospital. Take care!

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    1. Thanks, Louise. I had my blue and gold Star Trek socks on the whole time.

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