Notes from a hospital visit, necessarily in verse – Judith Arcana

….. for JB

The poet’s brain is bleeding.
You may think that’s metaphor,
may think it’s part of her job –
poetry is liquid. You imagine
she suffers in a postmodern fantasy
of Keats, that poor young master
of grief, producing a dark flow
of arterial art, her rich brain
a source of lyric ruby light.

But this is not metaphor. Truly
the poet’s brain is bleeding; there
is no receptive marsh for the mind
that’s flown long-feathered over
mountains, dived silverly beneath
the sea. Now those hemispheres,
creased lobes of folded conscious
knowing, are being seared by pain
rough eruptions of rusty lightning.

Outside of her, beside her bed,
the imagery’s all inside our heads,
our careful brains composing
stanzas we hope will hold, lines
with strongly numbered beats –
structurally insistent syllables.
Stressed, we are counting feet
checking any impulse to breach
the form, to break the measure.

Judith ArcanaJudith Arcana writes poems, stories, essays and books – and hosts a poetry show on KBOO in Oregon. Recently her collection Announcements from the Planetarium was published by Flowstone Press (2017); Eberhardt Press has brought out a new edition of Judith’s chapbook, 4th Period English (2018). Her website,, includes more information and poems.