April 2022 POEM 21 Deserters


At two or so it was pneumonia, then

tonsils wanted out. Let them go, I said.


Next, it was the eyes, at fourteen, when

the blackboard in class seemed too far away.


At 26, the cholesterol played games, blood

pressure too, pills for this, pills for that.


They all gave me a break for a long time after that.

Til arthritis set in, then C. Difficile wanted my colon.


Yeah, goodbye to that! Then the kidneys, sly suckers, those.

A slow rot, fourteen years to finally give up on me. Not satisfied,


they want to take more. Aortic valve’s complaining, heart

sending loud murmurs to protest all the work she has to do.


All the rats slinking down the gangplank, and me,

the body, flailing in deep waters.

Carol A. Stephen

April 30, 2022

NaPoWriMo Prompt 20

Day Twenty On April 20, 2022

“….And now for today’s (optional) prompt. Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that anthropomorphizes a kind of food. It could be a favorite food of yours, or maybe one you feel conflicted about. I feel conflicted about Black Forest Cake, for example. It always looks so pretty in a bakery window, and I want to like the combination of cherries and chocolate . . . but I don’t. But how does the cake feel about it?”

Eggs, Being Weird

Scenario: Breakfast.

Eggs on the plate, sunny-side up. Bacon,

stretched out alongside. Eggs don’t like it.


“Why you always crowding me?” they ask.

“You’re too crisp, likely to poke a hole in

my big sunny-yellow eye! Getcher own space!”


“And, yo, you! Toast! Dried-out pieces

of flour and water! Need butter and jam

for any hint of taste!”


“But us, we eggs are versatile, tasty, good

hot or cold, fried, poached or omelette-ified!

And we’re not weird, even for snacks!”

Carol A. Stephen

April 27, 2022

NaPoWriMo Prompt 19

Day Nineteen On April 19, 2022

“Today’s challenge is to write a poem that starts with a command. It could be as uncomplicated as “Look,” as plaintive as “Come back,” or as silly as “Don’t you even think about putting that hot sauce in your hair.” Whatever command you choose, I hope you have fun ordering your readers around.”

So, I have several chronic conditions, and some overlap, so when I am symptomatic, I’m not always sure which one is responsible. Or if it is all of them! Or none, and just plain anxiety…

Don’t Tell Me

Don’t tell me to just get over it!

Nor to stop worrying—

it’s what I do.


There’s a little voice that says

if you think the worst, then anything less

is good news. 


It says, if you prepare for the bad things

the lesser things don’t hit so hard. But,

between you and me…


the catastrophizing means suffering twice.

Once, in the imagination, then later,

when reality comes flying in the door.


Today, I wonder how many symptoms

are real, and how many just anticipation

that something might be wrong.


How many are health-related, and how many

a figment of anxiety and those always-present


Carol A. Stephen

April 27, 2022

NaPoWriMo Prompt 18

Day Eighteen On April 18, 2022 “…Last but not least, here is today’s prompt (optional, as always). It’s based on Faisal Mohyuddin’s poem “Five Answers to the Same Question.” Today, I’d like to challenge you to write your own poem that provides five answers to the same question – without ever specifically identifying the question that is being answered.”

Five Answers to Something

Cotton socks, black, white

and tan, pairs for all occasions


tee shirts, all the colours of the rainbow

long sleeves for winter, short for summer


fleece pajamas, two pairs, with nightgowns

some with pants too, some without


sweatpants, grey, purple, navy, wheat,

sweatshirts, grey, white, and lighter grey


sweaters, striped and plain, wool and polyester,

thick stitch and thin, every kind for every sort of weather.

Carol A. Stephen

April 18, 2022