Archives for posts with tag: health

by Lisa Molina

I am still waiting
in the pediatric cancer
transplant unit.

Ten days
and nights.
So far.

Will his body embrace
the donated cord
blood cells?

(As I once embraced
him as a young infant
and child?)

Or reject them?
Refuse them?
Causing his death.

The children
on the other sides
of two walls

of our room
have whispered
their final breaths.

My child is still breathing.
Living a life
between deaths.

What is he dreaming?
Has he descended to the depths?
Lying in a dark cave?

Lazarus awaiting?

I am still waiting.

Originally published in a slightly different form in Amethyst Review, as “Waiting for Life.”

PAINTING: Red Circle on Black by Jiro Yoshihara (1965).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My son, whose birthday happens to be March 24th, the same as Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s, is a three-time cancer survivor, and endured an anonymous, unrelated double-cord blood transplant at the age of 13. In this poem, I try to capture the feeling of that liminal, purgatory-like space between life and death, when I waited and wondered if my son’s body would accept or reject the donated-cord blood cells. Rejection would mean death. He had no immune system whatsoever at the time, was heavily sedated, and has no memory of those days that we were waiting, which took place from December 15-December 27. I have purposely left this poem open-ended, since it is the Waiting that is the focus, and, during each of those days, I was in agony while “Still Waiting,” and in another respect, I am still waiting to process and understand it all. My son is now 25 years old. He has a BA in Political Science from Texas State University, and works at the Department of Treasury. We are so grateful he has remained cancer-free all these years, and his immune system has re-grown from the transplant cells.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: While not bingeing on her new favorite writer’s works, Lisa Molina can be found working with students with special needs, writing, singing, playing the piano, or marveling at nature with her family. She has lived in Austin, Texas, since earning her BFA at the University of Texas. Her poetry has been featured in Trouvaille Review, Beyond Words Magazine, Poems in the Afterglow, Sad Girls Club Literary Blog, Ancient Paths, The Poet Magazine, The Daily Drunk, Tiny Seed Journal, Down in the Dirt Magazine, and Amethyst Review. You can read her poetry at

26720 OK copy
How to use acupressure to treat insomnia
by Scott Ferry

Du-20: first find the place where your fontanelles never closed
where the white cord floats upward into the heavens
twirl this hollow into a whirlpool

Large Intestine 4: flatten the muscled pearl just proximal to the web
between your thumb and index finger until you feel each scalene
unravel and drop each shoulder (if you may be pregnant,
don’t use this point)

Pericardium 6: on the yin side of your wrist slide your finger between the two
tendons from the base of your hand two inches towards your elbow burrow
a thumbnail between these roots until your heart purrs silver
and each eye wells a single tear

Ren 17: place your index finger on your breastbone where your nipple line
would fall if gravity did not pull press into your chest with compassion
like joining with the self—a self you would paint for your great grandchildren
a self before the masking before the armor caught tight around each intercostal
let your spirit into the cage / let the cage out of your spirit

Ren 4-6: place your entire hand on the area just below your umbilicus
and hum a still lake know that the bottom of the water connects to a spring
in Angola to the flood-tap of the Columbia to the bioluminescence
of the Mariana Trench

Liver 3: lastly lay an index finger in the depression between the great toe
and the second toe here the qi blinks on all the streetlights in the neighborhood
reaches sparking wires up the thighs through the three burners and back into
your breath

now if you place your palms over your eyes you may map a city

IMAGE: Sleeping Woman by Oskar Kokoschka (1908).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Even though acupuncture is a trusted form of Chinese Medicine practiced for thousands of years, it is still mysterious as to why it works and how it works. I tried to harness this mystery in this poem, but I also give the reader a real acupressure treatment, which should work to calm the shen (spirit), move the qi, and settle the mind.

FERRY copy

Scott Ferry helps our Veterans heal as an RN. In previous lives, he taught high school and practiced acupuncture. His second book, Mr. Rogers kills fruit flies, is now available from Main St. Rag. Follow him at

No Substitute for Sugar
by Joanie Hieger Fritz Zosike

Don’t want to leap to any conclusions,
But I think sugar is a conspiracy. In theory
In my life it sabotages me, occupies too
Much time in my cells, my blood, medical
History. No six-hour glucose test for me
My readings shot right off the chart
They put me on oinky pork insulin stat
That’s what doctors used back when.
As if I were, myself, porcine.

Ah, but for me the world was so smooth
Yet Southern Comfort didn’t bring succor
I left that up to Key Lime pie, bagels
Manhattans, marzipan as carbs turned
To poison in my pancreas and I went nuts
Now when I was a sweet young thing
I loved cherries, berries, mangos, treacle
Chocolate, sure, but more a fascination
With sweet peas, sweet talk, romance
Sunshine, lollipops (tootsie roll center)
Chanel #5 to lure tempt sweetness to
Tootsie roll’s center—oh sweet sweet
Even the word is cloying, isn’t it

Sweet is its own thing. What is sweet
Tastes and smells sweet, loves sweetly
The taste of my love’s mouth, his scent—
Gummy bears and musk soaked in rum
Even if it harms me; as over-indulgence
Whistles in my ear, bangs in my head
Causes blackouts—consequence of the
Islets of Langorhans ceasing to function
Demanding substitution of more easily
Metabolized crystals fraught with toxic
Content bolder than sugar

Oh hell, gimme some sugar, let’s go nuts
Sip umber breezes in yum-yum Umbria
Trail of hot boiling blood in exile, nixing
A ghetto of dulcet agave or Nothing Atoll

Joanie 1956 Halloween

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The September 2015 issue of Forbes magazine reports, “According to a study published online in JAMA today, nearly 50% of adults living in the U.S. have diabetes or pre-diabetes, a condition where a person already has elevated blood sugar and is at risk to develop diabetes.” I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 1976. I survived a heart attack in 2006 that was directly caused by low blood sugar. I am now having an existential argument with my digestive system, also a byproduct of diabetes. One might say my relationship to sugar contentious, yet fraught with humor, willfulness and hope. My story is not a tragedy. Others diabetics suffer much more than I have. What is tragic is an uncontrolled pandemic. With education and research, perhaps it can be stemmed. Here’s to knowledge!

PHOTO: The author on Halloween 1956, two decades before sweets became fraught with angst.


Joanie Hieger Fritz Zosike
is a writer, actor, singer, director, activist, and caregiver. Joanie’s writing appears in At the Edge,, Daily Jewish Forward, Dissident Voice, International Worker, Maintenant, NYArts, Silver Birch Summer Anthology, The Great Gatsby Anthology, IDES: A Collection of Poetry Chapbooks, and Womannews. Her most recent play, RelationShifts, was read at Dixon Place and TheaterLab in New York City. Her poetry collection, An Alphabet of Love, is to be published by Barncott Press (London) in 2015. Joanie is a veteran member of the legendary Living Theater, actor/director with the dada/surrealist theater company DADAnewyork, and co-founder/co-director of Action Racket Theatre. She lives on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and Manchester, New Jersey.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: In Ecuador getting ready to take my insulin shot.

by Susan Mahan

According to certain African beliefs,
the limbo dance reflects the whole cycle of life.

The dancers move under a pole that is gradually lowered
from chest level and they emerge on the other side
as their heads clear the pole.

This symbolizes the triumph of life over death

I am in limbo
as I wait for the results of a biopsy

I hope to God my head clears the pole.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Susan Mahan has been writing poetry since her husband died in 1997. She had wanted to be a writer as a kid, but life got in the way. She has subsequently written over 350 poems and many of them have been published, including on the Silver Birch Press blog.