A Matinada

Awareness slowly pricks my mind, ’tis light and no longer time to sleep
I drift in gentle waves of slumber until I long for tea to steep

Published in The Lark


Guest Post

Transmuting Thought from Pain to Tranquility We are Free

Watering our Garden of Compassion

By Joseph Lieungh

Photo by Chase Yi on Unsplash

Fall from atop the maple trees, wind in sails knocking out every breath, helplessly looking up at another broken sky. Floodgates watering spouts, nourishing life’s pain inflicted upon self-squirrelly forgotten playful songs.

Planted seeds of hope and tranquility growing between the stranglehold of weeded thoughts, battle of the gardener’s fever-toil in fertile grounds of possibility. Plucked one — a thousand more suffocating vines of death amidst the Great Mystery, laying them out as not to be forgotten, there for all to see upon the sleeves.

Uncle Bill, childhood friend’s gone-too-soon, the brick wall’s barricading life from seeing the light of day, smack of a Mack truck eighteen-wheeler running over our dreams and aspirations. Bare witness to the all, good, bad, and the ugly truth, survived yet another barrage and carnage of soul’s fleeting energy.

Enter the self, sacred space reserved for one, puffing on smoky Joe’s mysterious Cosmic Dance with alpha and omega — present in all the disfiguring faces foretold by the beholder of creative power handed down by the poets before. Breathe in quenching thirst, squelching forbidden memories whilst watering the hole in our heart.

Outwardly vines, vibrational pull, filling space for a new episode of life’s Great Mysteries. Open arms, reaching to heaven’s breath, magnetic polls attracting more of our greatest desires, all the while remembering the steps bringing into a present tense.

The golden globe is rising in the East, the daily promise of tomorrow’s bountiful cornucopia of reality spent in the present visionary animation that is true to self and collective well-being. Filling cup, watering canister in hand, a cleansing spirit of future generations, spreading love’s true home on pasture’s undertow of soul-filled strength and nonce within unconditional.

Henceforth, forever shall it be, wind-filled breathtaking songs flowing through the physical. Carrying sans fear-ridden hold of past and future’s untold stories, intoning planetary natural aligning thoughts, painting a brighter future, lighter and freer than the day before.

~Ani Po


Living With Hypoxia

My life has changed radically this year. When I think back to how much I enjoyed last year, I am incredulous.

Five years ago, I was diagnosed with inflamed lungs. I had been exposed to damp spores. Gradually it grew worse, and I started to have what were, seemingly, asthma attacks. These were few and far between for a while and then became more frequent depending on the weather.

There has been much discussion about my what ails my lungs, but deep down I began to realise that I would never be fixed and that I had begun my journey towards dying. It was a matter of how long.

I also have a neurological disease which is extremely rare. As far as I know, I am the only one in the UK. It has been progressing for some time. Now I need strong medication so that it doesn’t overwhelm me. My left arm is hard to control. There is damage to my spine, ribs, and, therefore, my lungs.

Some of you may have read learning-to-live-as-a-carbon-dioxide-retainer, and now I have hypoxia as a result of that. Hypoxia is lack of oxygen to the brain. It means I am forgetful, but not as you know it. My memory blips every few seconds. I forget the next word I want to type. I forget I have just made some coffee, I forget to eat the treat I made or bought that is in the fridge. I have stepped out of the shower with shampoo in my hair.

I go to the town to get cash, but find I have forgotten my wallet with my debit card

I don’t lose the continuity of my day. I just forget to be in certain places at certain times. I use the reminder function on my phone a great deal, but sometimes forget that it has alerted me. I need to start using the snooze setting. I prefer using my clock function, it seems more user friendly and plays my ring tone until I turn it off. I go to the town to get cash, but find I have forgotten my wallet with my debit card. It’s good it’s not far to go.

I have sometimes prepared myself to leave the house, my inhalers, my wallet, my phone, only to find my phone still beside my laptop when I return. I feel appalled, but if I need an ambulance there are enough people on my routes to call an ambulance for me.

I use the third step of my stairs to put things I need to remember to take upstairs. My cell phone is there a lot as I can easily hear it from most rooms downstairs, but won’t forget to take it up with me. I write upstairs. However, I still leave necessary things behind and sometimes don’t see them for days. I have two inhalers, and never take both upstairs or downstairs.

Some of you have read how the other friday-i-had-to-be-60-miles-away-to-get-a-device-for-my-lungs. It is called a CoughAssist. It’s like a vacuum cleaner. But for lungs. This week, I stopped using the CoughAssist. Using it for ten days made my chest feel as though there was a log in it. I was struggling to breathe. I can only think that phlegm was drawn up but not enough for me to cough and so caused that “log in my chest” feeling.

On the positive side, I find less to make perfect. I get concerned about less

I have decided that I need to be in hospital. Every day I decide to go and then I see a ripe fig, butterflies, or bump into a friend and go to sit in my garden with a cold drink, enjoying the sunshine☀ and nature. Each day I put it off, I feel a bit better which will make it harder to investigate the “log in my chest”. This morning I remembered I left my glass outside after my friend left. No matter, it will still be there. (Since writing this, I tried to go to hospital. Paramedics came but would not take me to the ER as it is hostile to neurological disease. I have emailed my consultant’s P.A.)

On the positive side, I find less to make perfect. I get concerned about less. I am more placid rather than animated. For me this is good as I have always taken on too much. I don’t worry about my appearance as my clothes all mix and match so it is easy to dress and look good. I need to remind my self to brush my hair.

On Monday morning, when I wakened, I had my first experience of impending doomThis is a symptom of hypoxia. I stayed where I was, in bed, until a friend let herself in. We had a lunch date, so we re-arranged. It was not terrible, but a slight oppression. I dare say that I will have worse episodes.

It is not depression. I have suffered very deep depression, but all this is not triggering depression.

As I write, I have had a call back from the respiratory clinic. That person said I could use the CoughAssist less. That is comforting but as she has never met me and is unaware of the damage to my ribs, I am a bit skeptical. Eventually, I will feel the “log” in my chest again. I asked for the young woman who showed me how to use it to phone when she returns to the clinic.

I am still of sound mind. It may seem that I am suffering dementia, but far from it. My intellect is intact, my knowledge and expertise are still there. I have no problem with what I know.My spelling, however, is sometimes adrift.

Thank you for reading this. If you got this far, please highlight a word in this sentence. Then I will know who may give support to me in the future. Comments are welcome too.

Published in The Lark


Send Out The Clowns

A poem by John O’Neill

Never the favorite part of my circus visits
Too predictable
More filler than specialty
Only mildly amusing
Slapstick comedy not really my thing
But now I say
Send out the clowns
Early and often

Hit me over the head with a rubber mallet
Deck me out with greasepaint
That would be the envy of a geisha
The time for subtlety and clever satire is over

Why this reversal of opinion
The world is much too serious these days
Afghanistan and Haiti
Covid and its deniers
Mother Nature angry and out of control
Homophobia and racism and sexism rampant
The N.R.A. as outrageous as ever
(If only they would be content with just muskets)
Rich people spending a fortune to go into space
While hunger plagues much of the world

Then there are the faux clowns
Politicians acting as fools
Including a recent American President
To the delight of many
But in a manner that would have embarrassed court jesters
Some clergy joining in the fun as well
Fox News becoming Comedy Central Noir

Bring back the laugh tracks
From the television comedies of the fifties and sixties
And every time someone protests
Against mandatory wearing of masks for school children
Or says that vaccines either aren’t needed
Or don’t work
Play one of them

By all means
Send out the real old-fashioned clowns
They never promised more than they could deliver
I need some mindless entertainment these days
And give me children blowing bubbles
Birds singing
And orchestras playing Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’
Dogs and cats playing with humans
Smiles and tears on every face
Every moment savored

Please let the real clowns
The people who make us happy to be alive
Lead the way

Published in The Lark


My lungs…

Over the last few days, I have struggled to breathe. My inhalers were no help and the paramedics fixed me temporarily.

I stopped using the cough assist machine on Friday. It is the only factor that has changed, apart from the progression of my disease.

Yesterday, I decided to pack a bag and go to hospital today. I have not. My breathing is easier. I no longer feel I am suffocating.

My theory is that the cough assist dragged up phlegm but not enough to cough up. I am wondering if the movement of phlegm was enough to impede my breathing, but not enough to cough up.

I will not use it again until I have medical advice.

Hypoxia is very much part of my life now. I set a reminder on my phone for this morning. I had not given the reminder a name, so I had no clue what it was for. It was for a poetry event and lunch with a friend. My friend arrived and I dragged myself from my bed. We have rearranged.


Strange things…

Today has been a day of strange things. I started the morning with my palliative nurse. I like her so much.

Then I had several messages. That was very pleasant.

I went into town briefly and met someone I used to know. She said how I used to make Sunday dinner for them. I was happy to be reminded.

And on my way out of the garden, I ate two figs from my fig tree. I was really happy about that.



It seems I wheeze while exhaling. How weird can it be? Why is that?

Have I said I’ve been prescribed an ipratropium inhaler? We’ll see how that helps me.



Yesterday, I had another crew of paramedics. One was really sweet. The other I have met before and though she is professional she talks too much and too loud.

I felt fine afterward, even though they made me sign a disclaimer. My head took a while to stop aching after meds and loud voices.

I had, in fact, realised the surgery was open and rang to ask if they would nebulizer me if they had ipratropium there. They did. I rang the ambulance service to stand them down, but they asked why. They then told me to stay put.

This morning I was wheezy again, I waited a while and then headed for the surgery. When I got there my wheeze was gone. Fresh air is a nebulizer!

I am now prescribed an ipratropium inhaler. I could deal to the whole of my town.

It was nice though, to be in town with a purpose. I saw islands of green sitting areas with lovely landscaped gardens where a main road had been.



I needed paramedics last night. I phoned at 10pm and they arrived at 3.20am. This is how busy they are.

It was one of my worst episodes. I was suffocating it seemed. I fell asleep which was fortunate, and they came up to my bedroom. They were both really lovely.

I am still rather tight in my chest. I would rather not be alive in all honesty.


The last few days…

The last few days have not been great. I have had pain, quite a bit.

A friend came and had Chinese. We had Pimm’s first. It was raining but heck, it’s August.

This morning I awakened and did not know whether it was Monday or Sunday.


Still recovering…

I am still recovering from my appointment in Southampton. My body hurts everywhere. Yesterday, I managed to get to the shops, today I took the shower I needed but have slept on and off with painkillers.

I feel without hope. I want rid of the body I am trapped in.