H e a r t   S o n s   &   H e a r t   D a u g h t e r s   of   A l l e n   G i n s b e r g

N a p a l m   H e a l t h   S p a :   R e p o r t   2 0 1 4 :   A r c h i v e s   E d i t i o n






Both Named Marge




Sick again, I watch news features about sex slaves, child prostitutes right

here, blocks from my arty urban loft home.  Drowning on dry land, my

lungs are a factory for viscous slime, so thick and tough it blocks the flow

of air, in or out, my darkest army green invader, blockading me from life.  I

cough until I am too tired to move, let alone cough again.  Even before

breathing became so variable, my brain was and is an enemy lying in wait –

bright sun, the scent of an orange, not enough sleep, Arbor Day (whenever

that is), all can be a metal lance into my head, migraine, familiar pain

never better just because I’ve known it, my nauseous stomach demanding

that I stay away from cars and food, except for coca cola.  I can’t see

normally, read or write. 


I contemplate volunteering, helping in the program they praise, using my

training, education and broken heart to reach these little girls.  But help

comes better from the meditation cushion than the street, from me at least,

since 12 year old hookers were almost the death of me.  I can’t help

anyone if I’m confused in the bardo.


The first time I found out that there were 12-year-old prostitutes right

next to me, not in Bangkok, or Calcutta, or on MSNBC, I was trying so

hard to save the world that I missed it when my exploding head came

within a hair’s breadth of killing me, demanding painkillers until the

explosion nearly killed my connection with the people that I loved most. 




Sick again, I croak guilty apologies to beloved friend Marge.  Her real

name’s Nancy.  Living in side-by-side trailers, in service to Buddha at the

Mediation Center, we both became “Marge.”  She has also been sick,

cancer, and needs  caretakers, since they have scooped out her innards like

ice cream, 1000 times more intense and serious than that which knocks me

on my back so often..


Nancy and I, late bloomers both, laughed together more than I recall at any

job so difficult, both falling in love with (& marrying) late-blooming poets

while cooking vast mountains of mediation food.  My close friend from

ageless ages of karma, my Vedic sister, our birthdays a joint celebration

from every life, her open dakini (female Buddha skydancer) kind comic

wisdom heart tempering my own sharp tongue, bringing her the dubious

honor of later running everything at the Center with such ease and grace

they won’t let her leave.  Even while working harder than 3 other people,

her body full of cancer, I never heard a sound from her bemoaning her

condition, at least not without a joke at its heart.


Marge/Nancy managed to save me right at the end, though in the last gasp

of a chance before it would have been beyond help or beyond hope.  A

simple thing, really, but everything, and 52 sober new moons are mine, 4

years are mine, 52 dakini days of the Tibetan lunar calendar that may be

heavy with sickness, but not made worse by my own poor treatment.  She

found for me a refuge, a bardo where they relieved me of my pills in

exchange for regular deposits of my pain, the bardo called Rehab.


Marge may be out of abdominal content, and unable to do anything for

herself, but I am the one wearing the same clothes all week, my hair in

tangled dreadlock, my poet husband due home from an office that pays my

health insurance, food dwindling in the house.  I speak of Buddha but

worship t.v. instead.  Marge, so cheerful, no matter how her body feels,

lays under the refuge tree, a thousand thousand buddhas cradling her.  I lay

with the Tivo remote clutched in my hand, glad of the massive content I

have assembled.  I am counting on Marge’s prayers, or I will never get out

of the human realm.  Even so, she is not so holy that right now, I can think

of times with her and laugh out loud, one of the wittiest people on Earth,

laughter bringing tears to my eyes and a tiny bit of urine to my pants. 

And reminding me – I really should change my clothes.



[Originally published in NHS 2009, http://www.poetspath.com/napalm/nhs09/Suzi_Kaplan_Olmsted.htm.]