Stroke Of –

Stroke Of–

If he’d planned for it, he would have joined the glee club.
Hell, if he’d planned for it, maybe he would have quit
the god damn smokes.

But he’d not planned for it,
and when all that his mouth would loose
was what he’d learned,
preferably to music,
he was stuck with nursery bits, saved
like a favorite sweet, tooth-marked and not really suited
for bed.

So “twinkle twinkle,” he sang when he needed to pee,
and, when he wanted to know the time, “hickory dickory,”
though there was a big clock he could just make out if he let
his good side loll, and the nurses couldn’t tell what he was aiming at
anyway, but simply scanned
his torsoed sheet–

if he could even come up with a jingle, but his tongue was a backside caught
in a collapsed

until that time he looked at the nurse he thought of
as her,
as she tried to help him shift,
pulling one sheet side, her eyes reminding him
of a cow’s eyes, the one
that jumped over the moon–but in
a good way,

brown curls about her face like bovine eyelashes,
as thick as cream

and a voice that he almost recognized tilted into
“oh beautiful–”

and she stopped mid-tug–
“for spacious skies–” some part of him went on,
unconsciously smoothing the sheet with the hand that still
only really, this had nothing to do
with that blue sheet–
“for amber waves of grain,” quavering–

“Aha,” she said, but her eyes somehow then became rain
to him, that gentle droppeth, and more like moons
than cows–

“so, you’re getting hungry, huh?” she tried,

and he was pretty sure that wasn’t what
he meant at all, still what could smiled.


Another drafty poem for April 2017; Magaly Guerrero’s prompt on Real Toads, to talk of idea of “I have no mouth but I must scream.”  Here I write of a phenomenon where certain stroke victims lose the ability to speak but are able to recite poems or sing songs because the words are stored in a part of the brain other than the speech center. 


(Song at the end is America the Beautiful lyrics by Katherine Lee Bates.)

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8 Comments on “Stroke Of –”

  1. It’s so interesting to see inside his head, to watch how he interacts with the world… One can only hope that his brain retained many lines, and that those around him are patient and humane.

    Your artwork is very fitting, as you already know.

  2. M Says:

    I can’t imagine a more frightening scenario that doesn’t involve gore ~

  3. Kerry Says:

    This is such an enlightening story, karin, filled with coompassion.

  4. sanaarizvi Says:

    This is soo powerfully written, K!

  5. Shawna Says:

    My jaw … I cannot get it off the floor. This is … ahhh, I’m just freaking out over how good it is. I think I’m going to do a crazy living-room dance right now, actually. Yay!!! This is SO awesome!

    I like it just being about him being nutty, but now that I’ve ready the explanation, I understand your intention better. My mom has had several strokes, so I get it. But still, I enjoyed my initial interpretation best of all. Where he’s just loopy and not remembering right and connects with this nurse, putting all his focus on her, as if she is the answer, as if somehow she is the past and future somehow coming together in front of him right now.

    Anyway, I love it.

  6. Rosemary Nissen-Wade Says:

    All the little details add up to a very real and distressing portrait. Beautifully done.

  7. Jim Says:

    This will happen to more of than we care to think about right now. Couldn’t even communicate enough to get a ride to Oregon.
    Sorry I’m late in making rounds. Things happened yesterday.

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