I had thought I would eventually stop writing poems.
I only started writing them in the first place to quiet the words in my head that needed to be free, and wanted air so they could thrive. When I was struck with Multiple Sclerosis in 2013, I could only write a handful of words at a time. I stitched these words together, sort of like a literary patchwork quilt, to form a poem.
For a few months, the poems became my voice. I saw the world through my writing; I lived through my words. The poems were a way to keep the words and the stories that wanted so desperately to be told at bay. They were my lifeline.
When I started to heal, I began writing a novel again. I figured that was it for the poems and I would switch back to writing novels completely, not matter how slowly I typed. However, the poems had other ideas.
They became more than a way to observe the world around me and how I interact with it. The poems became therapy for me. During the beginning of my healing, my memory was horrible, so the poems helped me remember conversations I had had or other things I wanted to remember. It was as if they were mental snapshots caught in words.
They usually involved some sort of conversation. I had never seen dialogue in poems but I am a storyteller by trade, so there would be dialogue in mine. They would tell a story, even if it was just a moment from my life. The poems were difficult to write as they were just me on the page without the smoke and mirrors of fiction. They were part memoir and part journey towards a new lease on life for myself.
As I continued to write poems, they became even more therapeutic. I wrote about past relationships, friendships that had faltered, family members I haven’t spoken to for years. I wrote about my sexuality, my disease, the disability I was born with, and the beginnings of new love. The poems helped to shed a different light on those issues, giving me angles to look at that I hadn’t considered before.
Now my fourth poetry collection, Living Beyond the Waves, is available. As I look back at the four collections of my poems, it’s as if I’ve made four patchwork quilts, each one of them dealing with an aspect of my healing, of my life.
They started as the path to find my voice. In the end, the poems became the way in which I found myself, one word at a time. The poems gave me my voice back. Now they let it sing. I don’t just write poetry, I’m compelled to.
Of Needles, Pills and Spoons
Every day starts the same.
I take my injection and imagine
that it is filled with light
instead of medication.
I look at the clear liquid
and try to see sparkles within.
As the needle enters my skin,
I picture it filling my body
with the sweetest of songs,
a lilting melody that is left over
from my dreams the night before.
When that is done, I take out
my pill case. Inside are a multitude
of pills that I take each day.
I look down at the multi-coloured shapes
and, as I take each one,
I look at them not as more mediation,
but magic given form and shape.
As each one slides down my throat,
it releases its magic inside of me,
filling me so full with glitter dust
that it has no choice but
to shine out from me.
Then I look at the jar on the mantle.
It is filled with the number of spoons
that I get that day. The number can
increase or decrease, depending on
how strongly the sparkle filled injection
and the magic pills are working,
how strong my body is, or how strong
the symptoms are that reside within me.
Sometimes, there are seven or eight,
other times, there are only three or four.
A few times there have been ten or eleven.
Each spoon is a different shape;
some are smooth and shiny while others
are heavy antiques, blackened and waiting
for my fingers to clean them until
they can shine once more.
I put a spoon aside for each task
that I have to do that day.
When I am out of spoons,
I know it is time to rest, to recharge, to regroup.
I am thankful for my life
of needles, pills and spoons.
I have had to learn the hard way
that every day is a new journey
and a chance to start again.
Every night, when I go to sleep,
I wonder how many spoons I will get
the next morning after I take my needle and pills.
When I finally do fall asleep,
it is to a soft, lilting melody
that I can only hear in my dreams.
You can get Jamieson’s newest book, Living Beyond the Waves, by clicking here.
Jamieson is an award-winning, Number One Best Selling Author of over sixty books and writer of Two Steps at a Time, a blog about having Multiple Sclerosis and Cerebral Palsy. He is an accomplished artist who works in mixed media, charcoal, pastels, and oil paints. He is also something of an amateur photographer, a poet, a perfume designer, and a graphic designer.
Jamieson currently lives in Ottawa Ontario Canada with his cat, Tula, who is fearless.