N  a  p a  l  m     H  e  a  l  t  h     S  p  a  :     R  e  p  o  r  t     2  0  0  6






Emergency Room, (redux)



Young woman pushing stroller and wheelchair

Wheelchair man

His right eye a red puffy slit

A boxer’s eye

Tries to rise out of his circumstances

Foiled immediately

By wheelchair




In my condition

The clearest indication of


Is my ability to keep a promise




Ex-priest ex-drunk

tells of final suicide morning

February frogs croaking

Behind St. Anne’s Rectory

4 o’clock in the morning

Ready for rehab

A question of faith


If I say I believe in the Three Jewels

But take refuge in norco

In what do I really believe?




Things I Cannot Write About, Even If They Are True:



The way the light comes in the windows

at first glance dappled is the only word possible

but later

the way the sun is being filtered

by grime

outside San Diego haze

plus car exhaust

and inside alcoholic despair, desperation, old cigarette smoke


Phil’s shoes clicking on the floor

The comforting continuity of 12-step rituals

Rarely have we seen a person fail

The maddening drone of self-obsession

I missed what you were saying

I was thinking about myself








Every Weekend They Run In Marathons



On Oprah today

from my

rehab bed

voice stolen

by a head cold

I hear about Rick

Never able to

walk, talk

use his hands

(types out letters

one at a time

on a keyboard

with his head)

Rick’s father

says he’s not


he just needs

extra help

& every weekend

they run in marathons

as I change

the channel

to Gilmore Girls







On Leaving Rehab in San Diego January 2006, Cured



Car accident on the way home

at the airport approach crying silently in

Yasmin's Rap-mobile

four bags so heavy I can't lift them

in the back

my things exploding

from my over-stuffed carry-ons

airport floor luxury of chairs not required

I sit in line with my bags

and crumpled paper -

Across the way a close shaved head

(mine a tumble of tangle)

unremarkable face

(I cry on the phone in my pink glasses, people stare)

wearing only close fitting pale t-shirt, athletic pants

thong sandals

(black turtleneck and cardigan, crystal and silver studded belt

faded gold leather jacket and jeans)

beside him a tiny slim briefcase

in front an elegant stack of papers, unmarred

crisp, white, 2 pages each held together with

25 precisely placed paper clips

aligned perpendicular to the ground,

I turn up my i-pod on shuffle


Gimme Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment

I face the gate as the pre-boarding is announced

those needing assistance and children traveling alone

a large group of bent, damaged, crooked

people hobble past


limbs, misshapen backs, body casts

medical appliance wielding wheel-chairbound

life's roller derby wreckage

(my own damage disguised)