“Ganglion” – “Life’s Too Short To Enjoy It”


The below is my ‘Spoken Word’ effort for a “meeting the bar” challenge of dVerse Poets Pub, hosted by Ami Mattison and Claudia Schoenfeld.  (Check out their great article.)  I’m afraid my attempt is not taped and a bit long. (I feel like Madame de Sevigne–if I had more time, it would have been shorter.  Also, perhaps, if I had more discipline.)  But here it is:


So, you know what a ganglion cyst is?
In my case,
a cyst on the wrist,
born from what I dangled–
in my case, groceries.
In New York City,
you carry groceries.
A hard little lump
that I could wiggle, though it
hurt to press, and in my mind
was humped at first
just like the big bad C,
which was simply not allowed
a single mom in NYC (where
you have an absolute responsibility
to ward off all disease till
your kids can walk
to school without
held hands.)
But I looked it up
and found it just a cyst,
born from carrying
too damn much, in my case,

The true ganglion
is a tissue made of nerve cells,
no relation to the cyst–a
weemy kind of tissue they depict
as pink, with dotted ovals–but when I think
of my ganglion, my cyst, I think
of seven plastic bags
one winter’s evening—I always liked that store
even if too far–everything
so shiny on the shelf, the greens bouquets, tomatoes they
hosed down, oat biscuits baked
by the Prince of Wales–
seven bags a record, but
as plastic bands dug into
my cysted wrist, I felt kind of
ridiculous, till at
about West 4th, where I stopped once more
to shift from side to side
in the broad lit drive of a parking garage,
and one guy shouted
‘Hey Joe, com’on already, life’s too short
to enjoy it.”

Listening to the jingle of keys above
a Jersey accent thick
as double-knit, I went all smug inside,
thinking, life’s
too short to enjoy it?

And how they’d
got that wrong, right?

But did I mention
there was slush upon the street,
the sidewalks too, the gutters clogged,
big pools at every corner?
I trudged in wide
detouring curves as night nestled down,
seeing, but not able to really take in,
a violet sky, the crimson fade of stoplights
down to Canal, the cold damp air
that refused exhaust but not

Did I mention the thickening fervor of Friday night
that also crowded that dark sidewalk?
The clack of others’ black heels, their slicked-
back hair?  At one curbside, we always stopped–
me and my kids–to find the transcendent
blue of a high floor aquarium, everlastingly amazed
by the square miracle
of turquoise water in brick sky,
but I did not look up,
for the bags were heavy, and the kids not
with me–they’d be gone too when I
got home, Friday nights their night
away, and all this food, I realized,
would need to be put away, kept
cold, eaten some other day,
some other life, and so,
above the cutting edges
at my wrists, I counted
to make steps happen,
one, two, three, four,
thinking that if I could just count
out the rest of that
long way, I might not
feel a thing.

(Have a great weekend!  Thanks so much for reading!  Check out, please, my books!  Comic novel,NOSE DIVE,  book of poetry, GOING ON SOMEWHERE, or children’s counting book 1 MISSISSIPPI. )

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7 Comments on ““Ganglion” – “Life’s Too Short To Enjoy It””

  1. brian miller Says:

    life is def tough when you carry so much…can def relate to the counting of the steps, giving myself something to focus on other than my arms screaming from the weight…

  2. Caty Says:

    I carry too much at once too. I didn’t find this too long at all; it drew me in and kept me hooked all the way through. As a matter of fact, I could have kept reading…

  3. This was great! Not too long at all … ganglion is such a fabulous word (I’ve had a couple on my fingers – not fun) it drew me right in …
    I think this would make a great spoken word piece.


  4. Claudia Says:

    ah yes..a piece that i def. can feel…the counting of the steps, the carrying all that was looking so good on the shelfs and then you realize it was just too much and maybe you shouldn’t buy everything that looks so good– great metaphor here…i tend to do this…still learning…

  5. Steve King Says:

    This is so rich in details and captures so many different moments. A cyst–what an interesting departure to trigger memories of that journey downtown…This would be a great spoken piece. Nice work.

  6. HINES Says:

    This is one of those pieces that reads and speaks brilliantly. I’ve found that hard to do, write a spoken word piece that reads on the page as great as it sounds in the air. Nicely done.

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