Part of my internship at Mount Sinai Medical School required me and my internship colleagues to submit a creative, reflective project. Since my study was on chronic bronchitis and emphysema of senior citizens, I decided I wanted to narrate the story of someone who is living with the disease, and how they look back at their behavior which caused it. More than 80% of those diagnosed derive the pulmonary ailments from a history of smoking cigarettes, many of them still smoke. Also, over 98% of lifelong smokers began before the age of 18. My poem is as follows:
I wondered if it would be at all possible to go back in time if only for a moment relive the frivolity that were my younger days. My comrades and I would cackle and light up behind dumpsters, behind tenement buildings smoke seeping out of our mouths. We were Kool lights, as free as Mr. Marlboro Cowboy galloping past the stronghold of existence; invincible. till one day my coughs would erupt during inopportune moments, my granddaughters ballet recitals, and on my way to the bathroom, in the middle of my dreams. my friends whom i shared smokey starlit nights with, are gone, our generation died before the age of facebook. and even still, would i want them to see me, a cancer survivor, phlegm pouring from my throat like tap water? sinewy bones and my pitiful wobble - i am weak and it was self-induced. we encouraged eachother. do i want to see my aggressor? would she want to see hers? Artist Statement: This poem narrates the life of someone who can remember the day they began smoking cigarettes and can live to tell the story of havoc a life filled with such a habit can eventually wreak upon the smoker. It is the reflection of someone diagnosed with COPD, who acknowledges the part they played in their own destruction, but also uses this experience to discuss the meaning and significance of friendship. She at once articulates the part she played in encouraging her friends and being wrongfully encouraged by them. Jul 29
A good writer should know as near everything as possible. Naturally he will not. A great enough writer seems to be born with knowledge. But he really is not; he has only been born with the ability to learn in a quicker ratio to the passage of time than other men and without conscious application, and with an intelligence to accept or reject what is already presented as knowledge. There are some things which cannot be learned quickly and time, which is all we have, must be paid heavily for their acquiring. They are the very simplest things and because it takes a man’s life to know them the little new that each man gets from life is very costly and the only heritage he has to leave. Every novel which is truly written contributes to the total knowledge which is there at the disposal of the next writer who comes, but the next writer must pay, always, a certain nominal percentage in experience to be able to understand and assimilate what is available as his birthright and what he must, in turn, take his departure from.