I just want you to know that a new seven part poem of mine, ‘The Ordinary’s Incense,’ has just been published by this great online journal, The Typescript. I am thrilled that Teresa Smalec, an Associate Editor for The Typescript, asked to see this piece and liked it and eventually supervised the way it was published here. So here’s the link:
The thing is—I once heard Bill Bissett riff on this phrase for almost two hours at a poetry reading here in Vernon so that in the end I was simply and only laughing every time he worked it in—the thing is that this little, long prose poem of mine became something I worked on for a long, long time. It has a density I really wanted to reach for. It has a compression that excited me as a writer.
It’s about something my incredible wife, the artist Jude Clarke, experienced as she tried to solve a problem of chronic pain—a crippling osteoarthritis in her ankles—a problem that was preventing her, eventually, from walking. Jude has always been a hiker, going back to her walking/hiking six miles a day in the late 80s and 90s, to the two of us hiking all over France in 1988, Scotland in 1994, and Prague in 2008. I’m only mentioning all this because everything about this story took on the power of crucial loss and crucial gain in the process of Jude’s experiences. [And Jude’s ‘uber’ story is much bigger than this stage of it I’m referring to here, and she tells it best in her book, The Language Of Water, published in 2002 by Thistledown Press. ] But this particular part of Jude’s journey turned out being a transformative pilgrimage on many levels. She discovered that a USA medical professional, Ryan Blanck of the Hanger Clinic in Gig Harbor Washington, had designed ankle devices called ExoSyms that were limb-salvage devices designed to allow injured American soldiers to walk when they could not have surgery. Once Jude discovered these devices, she wrote Ryan Blanck, and after a complex preliminary exchange of medical charts and x-rays, was told that she was a candidate for the ExoSyms. Everything after that was guts, blind faith and exhausting improvisation, but the end result was that Jude now walks everyday with no pain. Unbelievable. It still feels like that. ‘The Ordinary’s Incense’ became another way of documenting elements of this pilgrimage that fascinated and overwhelmed me, and that required both density and improvisation.
Other angels who assisted in the density/improvisation end of things were poets Jake Kennedy and Sharon Thesen, and my long time close friend and editor, Mary Ellen Holland whose press, Old Mill Press, is going to produce a chapbook of ‘The Ordinary’s Incense’ sometime next year. We will let you know when that happens. Here are two photos: one of Jude in The Hanger Clinic training to use her ExoSyms, and the second of Jude hiking on the Okanagan with our faithful Welsh Springer Spaniel, Mosey three months after being fitted with her Exosyms.
So many beautiful people—family, friends and strangers—helped us in different ways to get these devices, and we can only thank you all again, and again.