by Steve Gaines

for the better part of sixty-five years
(that’s a rounded off number of course…
more like sixty-three years and six months)
I’ve been chasing the coronary demons
the ones I’ve only recently caught up with
…about ten years ago actually
(another rounded off number…
but never mind the precise number)

for many years…I suppose you could say… I “abused” it
burgers and fires and hot fudge sundaes…
that sort of abuse!
and for the last ten…
I suppose you could say…I “over worked” it
marathons bicycle rides long distant walking…
that sort of work!

however you spell it
lately…things have begun to wear out in a serious way
joints and tendons
and those invisible vessels running over my heart

first, in nineteen ninety, it was a simple angioplasty
one major occlusion in the LAD
(left anterior descending)
ninety-nine percent on its way to an infarction

and the little balloon did it’s job…until…..scar tissue
with all that cholesterol waiting in line behind it

so…in nineteen ninety-one…only three months later
a coronary by-pass to really get the job done
…and it did!

…until, nineteen ninety-nine…
another vessel was heard from
the ever popular RCA
(right coronary artery)
a couple of 75-ish percent impediments
and a couple of lesser adjuncts out in the hinter lands
…this time a double stent procedure plugged in!
then out into the world again…


…then the dreaded scar tissue again…
standing in line…in everyone’s way!
…knocking off an innocuous fifty percent

a few pains and pressures
a slow down in the overdone exercises
and certain questions…and little nagging doubts
…drug therapy this time
not so ominous perhaps
but the “next one” hanging precariously over my head
suddenly gun shy
suddenly just the slightest little bit wondering
when the last shoe will drop

it has become a kind of game in the dark
walking toward some great precipice in tiny groping steps
trying to somehow sense the edge
without falling over

…the ultimate guess!

reminds me of Robert Frost…
climbing his birches toward heaven
waiting to let back into the world gently…
none the worse for wear

and also reminds me curiously of my own words:

“at least its something to do!”

and it doesn’t keep me awake at night
doesn’t really frighten me
simply focuses me
nice current buzz word
narrow the vision
eye on the target…all that stuff

and in the mean time I’ll just do what I’m told
trust that the medical profession knows it’s business
trust that something will let me know
when things stretch too thin
when things begin to block up again
which I’m confident they will…
when I’m looking the other way
when I’m in some forgetting phase…
trying to just move on…

Murphy’s law again!
lurking in the bushes
always waiting to catch me out

all the laws of averages continually
adding up to some new surprise!

the good news of course
is that I’ve made it this far in more or less “one piece”
that I’ve survived my own cynical skepticism and doubts
and that there are all those guarantees of immortality
scattered across the country
in the shape of a dozen grand children
(…rounded off of course…)
little other hopes and promises to come
keeping me in the positive lane…
and helping me remember why
I’m “fighting this little campaign”

why I’m continuing to round off all the numbers
hoping the months turn into…how many years and decades?