My Fatty Liver
is caused by Hepatitis C. I got
in blood from blood - probably I.V. drugs
pumped in late 70's, early 80's NYC boho
Alphabet City with poet buddies.
My fatty liver has a viral load over 2 million
and that is a lot of anything
to have in even this small body, aging now
more quickly than I pretended it could.
My fatty liver is Home of Irritation.
My irritation is Greek known, is China known
caused by Liver Stagnation (East) and Drugs/Booze
My irritation causes pain as I gripe
& complain way around Paradise, criticize
kind Wife for her mistakes in driving,
cooking, planning -
even the way she walks grounds for irritable
Former love Jill said I was high strung
I seemed to skate by Life's annoyances.
But Wife now target of Fatty Liver's Revenge!
My fatty liver is Mean, is home of Virus Demons,
2 million strong, who shout angry now that
the gig is up and my decision to
is starting to toll there, in Hepatic DMZ.
The anti-viral is working!
My hundred healing mantras every morning are
Wife's better diet for me, working
My sweet Buddhist Teacher's Healing Amulet
I place it on right side, under ribs while
visualizing healing light
entering The Palace of Flesh called body
an offering of peace to the angry 2 million
an offering to all those who suffer from Hep C
whose livers march into gray cirrhosis
like the very world of Evil no sun Middle Earth.
Yes, my fatty liver's getting a lot of attention
my Lama prays for my health
acupuncturists needle & herb me
doctors (3 so far) push on my abdomen
examine blood work results, flip biopsy slides
on microscope & nod their heads: hmmm,
your liver is fatty alright... Take the Chemotherapy
for 6 months
or maybe a year. Clear the virus and repair
with healthy diet and exercise.
so... no more fried foods Gone southern
no more rich sauces
no more buttered popcorn or toast or bread
or corn cobs slathered - butter the hardest to go, boo-hoo!
Gone 1/2 & 1/2 in coffee, gone coffee too
now, 6 months gone
I drink some black tea in the morning.
Gone sugary sweet treats after meals, ice cream
or sorbet, licorice,
hard candy, cakes, pie, cookies, chocolate,
Gone days of eating whatever whenever
No more buying prepared foods
without reading labels: Fat = 0 grams
= 0 grams
I multiply avg. serving size x
# of ozs. to figure the % of
sugar and fat and discard most of what went
in shopping cart.
My Fatty Liver celebrates by making me even more
irritated . I like comfort foods
- I like sugar
like I did ol' King Alcohol - & I was a
merry old Soul too
until this Palace filled up with Virus &
home of the fatty liver, & my irritation
grew & grew
I lost first wife 'cause I was angry &
punished her w/ more drugs &
drinking & other women.
Oh, my fatty liver was happy then!
The Virus Demon hid and grew but cut a deal:
no more booze/drugs & you can pretend you're
but we'll hide out & when you're confronted
Hope & Fear, we'll take Fear every time!
And so I spent 8 years therapy, working w/ Anger
Working on Esteem
Working to Open Up
and my Fatty Liver Demons laughed each time I found
a way around them
Oh they bide, they dwell, they wait to pounce
their 2 million strong voices of a sudden leap
into Mean Words
- take delight in disappointment, knowing how
lack of comfort and sex or bad
food will make my irritation rise
hydra headed, swelling venom sacs, spitting
invective & bitter
masturbation drains of energy & grief so
that I retreat
drift into a haze of day dream & angst
crave the foods I love, crave drugs and alcohol
first time 15 years sober
I begin to think I could get away with it -
anything to get out
of this fuckin fucked up Body!
Tired of the struggle already!
Tired of new wife already!
Tired of being tired so am meditating more than ever
which is calming my irritation
and I have less libido due to chemo
which is making Wife happy
and I have daily writing practice
which is getting things done
and I will skin-pop the 5 mgs of the
Interferon tonight, take the 1000 mgs of Ribaviran
that they too, the very Cure Itself, doth maketh
resign myself to that
drink lots of water to keep cool
and promise to take a long walk to where the
opens up to the Sea
soon as I finish
(Mom's Voice All Night in My Dreams)
Every morning I try to prostrate,
elbows, knees, and belly in front of my shrine
which has on it sacred
Buddhist Text preliminary practice called Ngondro.
I move slowly, seeing my mother: Ratty white terry cloth robe, kerchief hid
hair like a cancer victim, glasses pushed down
her nose so she could see
through the proper lens at what she was looking
at. I picture her bowing
down on my left, Dad, dead too, bows on the
right - both prostrating with me
symbolically in front of visualized empty crystal
Guru Rinpoche, he of the
infinite compassion, enough for my family even.
And so I stretch out, if time
and my own body's ill permit, so that we are
bowing together: Parents,
my living siblings my dear dead cat all beings
we've killed this life or any, all
food animals we've consumed, all insects squashed
by mistake on purpose, all
friends who've betrayed, all jerks on the freeway,
in supermarket lines, the
rude waiters, the sarcastic students, the lovers
who left us the ones we left,
the hard and difficult ones in our lives we
cant escape and so vow to learn
from - all tourists of cyclic existence - yes
all of those join my robed gone
mommy, bowing to the Buddha of my mind.
stripped by death bare her wig hair
forever gone, mother, strapped to the million
with liquid crystal displays, kept breathing eight breaths
per minute, a
perfect eerie # since there was just enough pause in
between to cause
me to look up at the TV screen in fear of her giving
Said 2 sandalwood mala bead cycles of mantras-visualized
white light consciousness emanation of Guru Rinpoche
thin haired pate.
Not even a glimpse for her
of thangka depictions of deity Vajrakilaya, like
Dad, whom I instructed not to worry and who
at least had dhutsi* and my
sober efforts to calm his confused mind after
the final plug pulled on dialysis.
No, Mother got nothing but the best that science had
to offer. Healed
up, after admittance for alcoholic hemorrhaging
in esophagus, her lungs nearly
gave out in emphysemic reaction to not smoking
for the first time in 50 years.
But that was on the mend too when the big Stroke
hit and her brain fried like
some power cord left in the rain or.
No, the stroke took her down past words, past memory
past grief over
Dad gone her sister Dorothy gone and the Kids
and Grand kids not enough,
travel not enough, booze alone 4 a.m. with
bitter resentment pouring the glass
full, raging against Death while saluting the
Bastard, bitter about her life of
sacrifice - all of it finally enough as her
synapses snapped and the second
stroke 12 hours later slapped her down into
final coma spin and the gradual
body dance of Less began and she lost This
Body and drifted toward another
- while I mumbled prayers and shivered in the
air conditioned horror chamber
of the Intensive Care Unit Bardo.
Already gone an hour, skin cool &
moist to touch her shallow chest
rises & falls, eight times a minute
the doctor arrives and pronounce Mother Dead
just as her brother shows. Bursting into tears
(his other sister dead six months now)
each other struck dumb by sudden horror.
Mother lies still
wire and tube strung
a dim red light
points from one finger
Deciding against the autopsy
they said was standard procedure - more
machinery, the corpse to be disturbed - after
all, she did die in the hospital,
all of Science arrayed like jewels, useless
and to be left behind, the four sons,
now sitting in cafeteria with the hundredth cup of coffee
there over the years with Dad's many stays.
Calls to friends from her address book. Call
to her dentist canceling last
appointment, to the pharmacy who'd left message
about prescription and to
the mortuary where we'd taken Dad for his final
viewing just eleven months
the cemetery, the gravestone, the flowers.
We'd be dividing up the household, arguing
over knickknacks and furniture,
but tonight was the first night of Mother dead
and I was to sleep in their bed.
First the ordering of take-out food, the liquor store
where I stopped to
buy girlie mag to look at to distract me if
the rented video couldn't - not tho to
buy Drink, for that was Her Muse of Death but
mine no more. Besides, the
house was fulla the stuff, bourbon mostly I
reckoned, but it didn't matter
tonight. Tonight I would gorge on bbq meat
and pussy shots of young women
I could posses for a few minutes without questions
- ah, the chubby mess I'd
Did she look down on my throbbing orgasm with sad longing?
fly from her castle in the Modesto night after
watching me sob my post-futile
climax blue tears? Was she happy to be dead
at last, never admitting it alive
but for dark hints those final months that
there wasn't much to live for
post Dad, post Sister Dorothy, post health
and empty bed?
And their bed welcomed me like a cloud of opium.
I could've easily pulled out the guest bed/couch
and found the sheets and
blankets to make me comfortable, but Dad had
died in the guest room, in a
rented hospital bed, so death was everywhere,
what matter where this living
I sleep with the lights on, Mom's voice all night in
Wake, half expecting her cloud of cigarette
smoke from the kitchen to great me.
Bloody fucking cold Modesto - the city that reminded
my parents of
San Jose in the sixties, the city of cemeteries,
of dialysis center, of the hospital
were Dad nearly died three times but recovered
only to die at home and
where Mother entered, was nearly healed, then
Yes, Modesto where, ironically, my Father's 95 year old
sill alive in her dementia nursing home bed.
The animate mind that moves from the sleep of dream to
the dream of
wakening to the quick sleep of death to the
memory to the present view:
Even this black and white polka-dot bolster pillow I
lean my head on
comes from their house, the House of the Sixties Danish Modern tables &
chairs, the antique gilt frame mirrors, the
end tables, sewing machine of woe,
the kitchen of aluminum pots and the goofy
time save meals of old age, of
potholders and bourbon glasses cloudy from
years of dishwasher, the garage
full of stuff for Christmas...
You, Mother were
the House, you were the Color Schemes: Black
couch, Yellow rug, Bright Blue or Kelly Green
fabric wire chairs. I
singeing the green chair with the marijuana
roach while my brothers and I partied
during Parental Absence - we snipped out the
burnt threads and green magic
markered the area to match the fabric and,
miraculously, escaped detection.
Your home no more - possessions scattered, edging toward
box of 60's Life
and Time magazines I left in leaky storage shed this winter.
* * *
When we visited the Tibetan Rinpoche last summer he called one
to the main house
where we had just lunched, "Peter and Nancy should go to
(S., long time wife and attendant to Rinpoche, had died earlier
So we walked up the hill with the Bhutanese attendant to where
her home was.
At first I was confused - the small house was maybe half
had to climb over a trench to go inside. Some of the floor was
the walls still missing sheetrock, the kitchen cabinets were
but no appliances
- the house now a monument to Impermanence.
asked if we had gone to see the house and nodded his head as
he watched us,
gauging the lesson's effectiveness.
herbal preparation said to seal rebirth from Lower Realms