This Poem was Submitted By: Thomas Edward Wright On Date: 2004-01-19 12:41:31 . . . Click Here To Mail this Poem to a Friend!

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For Mikey and Naneen

As usual, Anne was correct. Not all ghosts are adults.  No. There is Michael. He of the same name as the  Main Angel. His angel – God, were there more? If there were, they ALL failed.  You failed. If not, it was the one in charge of him. You failed – He was a sweet, oh so tender boy, far from home, far from ever. All five year old boys with cancer are. they who emit the scent of mushrooms, the odor of bacon, the signs of rocks and worms and broken trucks. they don’t wear matching socks, or any socks at all.  Their underpants say “well-worn” and lack the frills the luckier girls get to wear all their lives until they go into the white cotton gramma-wear clinically he had some odd-ball never-before-seen type of lymphoma that not even the well-shorn pathologists of the Hospital of Childhood Horrors could unfold or spell or distinguish from Spam which he enjoyed and which was cheap and which we enjoyed in a sandwich near the end of his stay Which was nearly a long day, but ended at night in a horrible mess on the fifth floor  in his little cell we called Mikey’s room Kathleen was his favorite nurse, and she was probably every male and some female resident’s favorite nurse, too, but Kathleen wasn’t  Kathleen to Mikey, because he couldn’t say “Kathleen” or because he just liked “Naneen” better, and we laughed every time he said it, as she held his hand as we dug blood out of his soul and sent it down to get the reports we knew without even checking – anemic, no white cells, no platelets: white as a ghost, infected and bleeding. ENT looking into his life through his nose  found a black fungus growing within his sinuses  and flushed and fumbled and washed and mumbled until one night after about the twentieth washout he just let the ol’ Carotid valve go – wide open and spewing and was gone in a flash that I can still see – it’s burned into the back of my retina, the same one that saw Naneen holding his hand as he said: “Don’t worry Naneen.  Be Hoppy.” It rhymes with poppy. "Mama says, Be hoppy - " Not all ghosts are big ghosts. Not all. For me, Anne, not even most.

Copyright © January 2004 Thomas Edward Wright

This Poem was Critiqued By: Elaine Marie Phalen On Date: 2004-02-04 09:40:51
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 9.77778
Oh my ... words are insufficient. If this one tops "martins" it will be understandable. You work kicks the gut and makes us sit up - inhale - admit that not everything is going to be perfect and joyous. Some children meet horrific fates. One can question the existence of any sort of benevolent God when confronted with this reality. In S3, the bitter comment about the failed angels foreshadows what's to come. ... he just let the ol’ Carotid valve go – This makes Mikey's departure his own choice. Of course, we know differently, but giving the ghost some control over the circumstances of its passing is a twist on the usual idea. The closing strophe reminds us that the speaker and his partner are pediatric specialists, whose world is populated with these small spirits. There are so many lost boys like the one described in S4. So many ... I hope you're collecting these poems into a single volume! I know it would find a ready audience. If you could find some talented child artists to add illustrations, even better! This could be a fundraiser for childhood cancers or other medical concerns, as well as a personal testimonial. You are writing some of the most important poetry on this site, I think. It's raw and real; it deserves to be supported and applauded. There is nobody writing like you do on any poetry site I've visited. Please, keep on keeping on with this. Eventually, a publisher has GOT to find what you're writing and then I can say "I knew him when ..." Brenda

This Poem was Critiqued By: Debbie L Fischer On Date: 2004-01-29 20:59:55
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 9.54545
Thomas, This broke my heart as I read each painful line. Mikey, so full of life and yet so not. Never is it fun to watch people go from this life to the next, but it is extremely difficult to deal with the death of a young child, innocent and what should be a full life ahead of him. Each depiction of the trials Mikey endured was felt as if I were there. Thank God for Naneen and all the people who loved Mikey and all the memories he leaves to those here.You've done a wonderful job, portraying Mikey in his short life. No suggestions for improvement. Simply wonderful. Deb:)
This Poem was Critiqued By: Erzahl Leo M. Espino On Date: 2004-01-26 22:10:54
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 9.37500
Hi Thomas, Wow, another jaw-dropping masterpiece! This one moves me like a rocking chair. Swaying my heart, emotions and senses in constant slow rhythm…until the message reached its peak, its softest part. The clear image of “white as a ghost, infected and bleeding” is so hard to bear. But an optimistic and positive reaction from a fragile innocent child “Don’t worry Naneen. Be Hoppy” touches my spirit most. It made me ashamed on the petty and little things I whine about with life. This strong, grateful and contented child taught me a lot of lessons…in life. Mostly, to be thankful on the simple blessings I now possess. Thank you Thomas for sharing this to us. But this is far less beautiful than your poem “For Martin”. I am deeply touched by this unique entry. I’m wondering why you hide this profound piece. As you know, everyday I copied TPL poems from our office and made a copy in MS Word and bring it at home for me to continue on reading and commenting. I was surprised that one day it was gone at the TPL site. I cannot deny that the poem “For Martin” truly touched my life forever. You have brought such sensitive topic into something that we can learn and reflect into our lives. Yes, these cadavers are once individuals who had a life, who walked this earth, who were just like us. It truly makes me wonder on what stories these strangers have during their lifetime. Who are these heroes / martyrs in the medical field? It was just a question in my mind before…but in “For Martin” you somehow clear my questions…and told quite an amazing story that satisfied my curiosity. “i thought they were the most beautiful tulips i’d ever seen. i just called them Martin's.” --- These are unforgettable lines. It will always haunt me forever. Bright red tulip bulbs – Martin’s heart. Just excellent! Hmmmm….haiku is now playing in my mind… :) “Don’t worry Naneen. Be Hoppy.” It rhymes with poppy. "Mama says, Be hoppy - " --- Oh…I find this very cute! :) Thank you Thomas for your two poems. I am now more encouraged to try free style / free verse. Thanks for the inspiration. As always, Erzahl :) P.S. Your two poems allow me to know you better. I didn’t know you are in the medical profession. What a diverse and talented person you are. :)
This Poem was Critiqued By: Claire H. Currier On Date: 2004-01-24 19:09:19
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 9.46512
My Lord Thomas what a heart wrming story of 'life' as you see it lived within the confines of your hospital and with the people around you.....this little boy certainly was one of God's purest angels and his love flowed from his heart to yours........Your emotions are so plain within the lines, for those who should not become attached to those they come in contact with it is ever so lovely to know the feelings are there for to me that is the point of counting.........he knew you cared, he knew you did your best to save his life from the disaster that it contained and in his heart he shall always love you and be with you in spirit form.....and his nurse.....what a lovely portrayal you paint of her with him too....the title Mikey and Naneen is quite befitting this well written piece......I am sure others reading it will feel the emotions held within along with the images projected as one reads down......the little boy is alive and quite ready to share it all with you.......Thanks for posting and for safe and God Bless, Claire I am certain this was a most difficult piece to write for one can feel your heart breaking dear kind sir.... You loved him too.
This Poem was Critiqued By: Ronda Michelle Nelson On Date: 2004-01-23 09:43:42
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 9.18182
NO, all ghost certainly aren't adults. A very powerful peace you have here. It touched me deeply. I could see this little boy, along with all the other children who face cancer, who all have thier personal story to tell. The tieing of the burned into the back of my retina, into the same one that saw Naneen..shows clearly the up and down, polar opposites that one endure through such a situation. "Hospital of Childhood horrors"... Clearly, how many would view the place, especially the children, who know how they will be poked and prodded, not fully understanding what is going on. And their parents having to watch and be strong for them, while inside dieing. clinically he had some odd-ball never-before-seen type of lymphoma that not even the well-shorn pathologists of the Hospital of Childhood Horrors could unfold or spell or distinguish from Spam > Very Clever, Good word choice! Not all ghosts are big ghosts. Not all. For me, Anne, not even most...very appropriate and fitting ties it together I found this poem exellent, and probably stirred more emotion than any I've read in a long while. GOOD JOB POET... Sincerely..Ronda
This Poem was Critiqued By: Joanne M Uppendahl On Date: 2004-01-21 16:05:54
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 10.00000
Tom: This one tore up my insides. I let it. It is the least I can do to let this poem to do its work. In a universe which does not feel 'just' - in which five year old boys like Mikey can die in this horrific way, we have two choices. To harden our hearts and go on as if none of this touches us - *our* children do not have this disease! Or allow the poem to hurt until we realize that we must make a difference with the life we have! The one Mikey no longer has. Give the love we feel for him - through your words - out to every child and former child who is living, still. We all, eventually, will meet death. In a 'timely' way, statistically. Mikey met his in an 'untimely' way that belies our ability to do *anything* about it. But you have done something with this piece. You have let us experience a part of the sorrow and enormous outrage that comes with the loss of such a child. Mikey's life - precious beyond measure - moments irretrievable. Sadness unfathomable. Naneen's and the speaker's love (yours> also unfathomable. And reason to stick around and stay connected to one another. “Don’t worry Naneen. Be Hoppy.” It rhymes with poppy. "Mama says, Be hoppy - " See, we have to do it. . .if he could say that, we can live it. You share an enormous gift of sensitivity and mourning, of dark humor and things are they are = of individuals who must not be forgotten. Undone, Joanne
This Poem was Critiqued By: Regis L Chapman On Date: 2004-01-20 14:01:02
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 8.55556
Wow. What a heart-rending poem. I could sit here and talk about style and so forth, but that wouldn't seem right, somehow. Well done. I have nothing further. Thanks, REEG!
This Poem was Critiqued By: Jennifer j Hill On Date: 2004-01-19 22:18:18
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 10.00000
TW: You have a talent for wrenching my heart right out of my chest so gently and firmly that it never misses a beat. Guess that makes you a surgeon...or a poet...or something Speaking as a Mom, a nurse and a child of God, (and someone who has lost a loved one) some people are only put here on this earth to spread Love. And they do such a damn good job of it. But they're just never allowed to do it as long as we want them to. That's the only shame of it. You do a service that most don't have the brains, heart or stomach to do. Thank you for that. Blessings, Jennifer
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