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I write this from the middle of a blizzard, our second in four days. I don’t use the term blizzard lightly, but I live in a winter storm belt and 30 plus centimeter (1ft) snowfalls are common. The National Weather Service defines a blizzard as a storm which contains large amounts of snow OR blowing snow, with winds in excess of 35 mph and visibilities of less than 1/4 mile for an extended period of time (at least 3 hours). Being unable to see the road from a sidewalk is not unheard of. The image below is from two years ago.

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My life the past few months has been blizzardy. In August 2016 I somehow partially tore a tendon in my shoulder. I’ve lived with nearly constant pain since then. It is not intense pain but it wears on you. The worst part is trying to sleep. An arm hangs straight when I sit or stand, and the tendon likes that. But lie down and the arm wants to move sideways or backwards. Ouch. Most of my sleeps have been two-hour sessions, and I wake in stiffness and pain. I stay up for a couple of hours, try to write, let the pain dissipate, and go back to bed for hopefully two more hours sleep. I’ve slept six hours maybe three times in the last six months.

Lack of sleep is an insidious condition. It slows your thinking, your memory, and your concentration. Writing, editing, thinking, learning, exploring a poem, whatever I try to do is impacted negatively. Yet somehow I finished NaNoWriMo, Robert Brewer’s November Chapbook Challenge, have written at least a poem a week, have studied poetry, and have edited some of my novel. Short sessions. Even now my mind drifts back to my throbbing shoulder.

Then there was the election. The election affects my novel as my story is set in Canada’s political environment. It is a trip across the nation and explores various protests, the divide between left and right. It is not so much a political book, but it is. It was written when this extremist divide was more or less defined in my head. left likes this; right likes that. But now President Trump has thrown a bag of hammers into the political machinery. I struggle with trying to understand him, people who support him, and people who defend him. I struggle with the left too but on a more purely ideological scale. The question of whether my story is relevant haunts me, and it has hobbled my progress.

I think it is still valid, and in many ways I think my message is more relevant than ever. I’ve been through reader feedback and am now reading to myself aloud.  I am up to page 65 of 303 in my Word document, and I hope today I might knock off a hundred more pages.

Anyway, I wrote a poem this week after the last blizzard ravaged us. I had originally written it with longer lines, but it didn’t work very well. Too much wallowing image and emotion and not enough tension, so I busted it into short, tight lines. I had it all in one stanza, but I do have some logical breaks in scenery. I don’t know if it will speak to you, but it speaks to me. I have lived through at least one blizzard a year for the last 46 years.

Oh, and the shoulder is slowly improving. Motion is up, MRI was definite, and back to physio today if the storm lets me.

Blizzard

a biblical plague
snowballs from
the fists of God
smack you in the face
the wind sucks
the breath from your lungs
a frozen sneeze
spraying your world
the howling ghosts
of dead trains

slippery footing
hobbling
plunging bodies
shoulders lean into
conflicted heat differentials
slams you hard
into the boards
grabs your collar
throws straight punches
tight knuckles

a father and son
killed
the New Jersey Turnpike
doesn’t care
if you are hunkered and afraid
the raid comes
brave cower
the regretfully stupid
quantum motion
of infinite chaos

the day before
calm
wet and clammy
you could smell it
coming up the coast
throbbing temples
filled with supplicants
refugees
nobody lays claim to
a blizzard

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The front window view at 6:20AM

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