The following poem was inspired by an event that took place in my life. I was with the worship team from my church, and we were performing for the Pi Um Sha celebration on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation. The event was going well, but my body wasn’t. I thought I had pneumonia, but it turned out much differently. And I thank God for urging one of the team members to pay attention to what was happening to me. And they convinced me not to wait for a scheduled appointment with the VA.



Late night call



Good deed on the ‘morrow



Scheduled act


Saving grace

Take their place

Walk a mile in their shoes

Performance rules

Friendly decision

With physical division

Mind is willing

Body is weak

Up before dawn

Shadow blanket on tepees

Nine songs played

Message relayed

To early risers

From sheltered wombs

Two-dozen rebirths

On early morning meadow

Nine of which opt

For souls reborn

Lead them on my brother

Lead them on my sister

Equipment take-down


Something is amiss here

Time to celebrate

Where’s the elation

Smile lost

Physical cost

Good deed tallies up a toll


Peer concern

I am not me

Joy is gone

Strength follows

Liquid in lungs

Drowning in the high desert

Out of water

Out of time

Another service to go to

No can do

The body battles

Civil War




Best wishes

But no offers

No assistance

Via con Dios

One step at a time




About to burst

Thirst… for life

Curse… the pain

A nickel’s worth of days



Modern Americans

Plenty of best wishes

Vocal loyalty

No action without royalty

VA delay

No wish to pay

Yet when they call

Perhaps to give all

We cannot forgo

Our part in the show

When there’s a need

To bleed

For the myth called Liberty

Yet in this circumstance

It’s a whole new show

With a VA song and dance

And “Old Glory” loses its glow

But pain chose the road

Policy be damned

ER… here I am

Thread the needle

Suck the blood

Sadistic duties

Monitor the scope

More angel than devil

Is all I can hope

I am the voodoo doll

Repeatedly stabbed

NAs… RNs… Blood techs



See the mass

Fluid’s a decoy

No virus

A consequence

Pulmonary Embolism

Silent death


Legs clear

Heart clear

Origin unknown

A nomadic clot

“Bend forward”

“Hold breath”

“You’ll feel a little pinch”



Fluid extraction

Feel the steel

Internal probe

“Try not to tense up”

Yea, right!

“You’re doing fine”

Compared to what?

Caught it in time

Prognosis good

Treatment begins

Stomach infusions

Twice daily

I will survive

If the cure doesn’t kill me first

© JW Thomas


“Doggone angels are always

watching over this one!”


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