Skip to main content

Looks Like Up To Me

This is the anniversary of my worst - although gloriously survived - year. At the end of February a year ago, a very close loved one became ill, and faced surgery. First few days of March saw them quite ill in hospital, when the surgery went a bit wrong. They recovered, but the stress of that time reminded me of three years before, in 2006, when I spent a summer with my father, by his side in hospital, as he lay dying of brain cancer.

Harrowing doesn't quite touch on that period. I suppose I was returned, if only second time farcically, to the storm and strain of inhospitality that even the best wards tend to offer. Fear of dying in such surrounds, fear of losing someone there, is now a part of what I need to work through - and I know I join millions who share my feelings.

Over summer 2009, worries and losses piled up, and by September 2009, I was suffering from - as long-time readers may recall - severe esophagitis (perhaps one of the most painful conditions). Every swallow, even water, was torment. I felt like (I was) dying. I became very depressed. Over the past five months I have come through a darkness such as I didn't expect to ever have to face. Each day has seen a slow step forward, with hope and health gradually improving, until, these days, I am back at work, not in 24-hour pain, and, to some degree, positive of outlook.

I still have the chronic condition, and have had to radically alter my lifestyle and diet. I now weight 67 kg, or around 10.5 stone, which means I am thinner than since I was 24, and can't drink wine or coffee currently. It's an odd back to the future purgatory. My work colleagues have been great, and teaching, which I love, is what I now do. I am about to turn 44. Middle age never felt like this before. Some days I feel old as the hills, but the mirror returns the face of a young man, doubtful, hopeful, tentative, determined. Full of love and vinegar.


Jeffrey Side said…
Glad you are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
SueG said…
Love and vinegar - yes, the only recipe. I'm glad you're finally on the mend.
Poetry Pleases! said…
Dear Todd

I'm very pleased that you're still with us! My wife Rusty was extremely ill with cancer about five years ago. She pulled through and so will you. I wish you every possible progress in the future concerning both your health and your poetry.

Best wishes from Simon
Dave King said…
Difficult to know what to say. You've come through without any words from me. Just every blessing for the future - to you and yours.

Popular posts from this blog

Review of the new Simple Minds album - Walk Between Worlds

Taste is a matter of opinion - or so goes one opinion. Aesthetics, a branch of pistols at dawn, is unlikely to become unruffled and resolved any time soon, and meantime it is possible to argue, in this post-post-modern age, an age of voter rage, that political opinion trumps taste anyway. We like what we say is art. And what we say is art is what likes us.

Simple Minds - the Scottish band founded around 1977 with the pale faces and beautiful cheekbones, and perfect indie hair cuts - comes from a time before that - from a Glasgow of poverty and working-class socialism, and religiosity, in a pre-Internet time when the heights of modernity were signalled by Kraftwerk, large synthesisers, and dancing like Bowie at 3 am in a Berlin club.

To say that early Simple Minds was mannered is like accusing Joyce of being experimental. Doh. The band sought to merge the icy innovations of German music with British and American pioneers of glam and proto-punk, like Iggy Pop; their heroes were contrived,…


Wheeler Light for 'Life Jacket'.

The runner-up is: Daniel Duffy - 'President Returns To New York For Brief First Visit'

Wheeler Light currently lives in Boulder, Colorado.

Life Jacket

summer camp shirtsI couldn’t fit in then
are half my size nowI wanted to wear
smaller and smallerarticles of clothing
I shrunk to the sizethat disappeared

of an afterthoughtin a sinking ship body
too buoyant to sinktoo waterlogged for land
I becamea dot of sand


With the death of the poetic genius John Ashbery, whose poems, translations, and criticism made him, to my mind, the most influential American poet since TS Eliot, 21st century poetry is moving into less certain territory.

Over the past few years, we have lost most of the truly great of our era: Edwin Morgan, Gunn, Hill, Heaney and Walcott, to name just five.  There are many more, of course. This is news too sad and deep to fathom this week.  I will write more perhaps later. 

I had a letter from Ashbery on my wall, and it inspired me daily.  He gave me advice for my PhD. He said kind things about a poetry book of mine.

He was a force for good serious play in poetry, and his appeal great. So many people I know and admire are at a loss this week because of his death. It is no consolation at present to think of the many thousands of living poets, just right now. But impressively, and even oddly, poetry itself seems to keep flowing.