Flavortown Sickboy Blues

Photo Credit: Texas Monthly

 

Guy Fieri is my blood relative,

Please, nobody look that up.  


     I’ve, primarily, been two kinds of kid in my life, the sick kid & the funny kid; usually at the same time. Sick can be funny, funny can be sick, but the connection between the two has yet to be unveiled in any number of 300-dollar appointment with my shrink. He does not see my silly boy antics as a psychiatric concern, and he may be right, but the joy of being a funny sick kid is that I never know if I’m being funny or exercising my sickness.


Seriously, don’t look it up,

Just believe me.

 

This year

On Father’s Day,

And Mother’s Day,

And on both of their birthday,

I posted a picture of my

Real life relative Guy Fieri

And talked about what a good job he is doing.

 

It is unclear if this makes either of my parents sad.


     When I was a small kid, around 2, I got scarlet fever. It was Hawaii in 1996, Kona was small and isolated and hot, it happened sometimes. They had to take the blood from me hourly. I am scared of doctors’ offices now. A small known issue associated with young kids getting bad infections of this type is Pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcal infections (or PANDAS, kinda cute, right?), which basically states that the disease cooked part of my brain to the point of causing early and severe onsets of OCD and other Tic disorders.

I Also have ADHD, which I got from my father.

And Bi-polar disorder, which I think came from my maternal grandfather.

     I don’t want this to sound like complaining I’ve had a LONG time to come to terms with all of these, but I just wanted to catch you up.


Do you watch the news?

You know the moment when the

“On the scene reporter” is

On a delay from the main anchor?

So the anchor will say

“and now to Tim who is on the scene

At the world-famous Taranto cannoli fest,

Tim?”

Then they cut too him

But it’s like 7 seconds before Tim answers,

Like “Tim?”


     My mother says she had to hold me down while they took my blood, that I would kick and scream and now doctors make my heart beat fast and hot; needles make all the muscles in my body turn to a fist and punch. I get made fun of sometimes by friends and family for fearing needles but at the same time I am adorned in ink like my skin is thin paper, but a tattoo artist has never held me down and taken the warmth from my arm using a tattoo machine.


“That’s right Henry…”

How has nothing bad ever

Happened in those seven seconds?

It only takes one second to be crushed by a

Vending matching, and one of those seven

Seconds is never that funny one second.


     Justin, my shrink, thinks my mother made me sicker. That she liked having a sick kid. I’m not sure I believe him. At most, she just taught me to be vocal about it. To talk about myself in useful ways, to communicate my existence to anybody who would listen. To tell my story so that even though people couldn’t, like, relate; they would still be able to understand me.


My partner also has OCD but she got it the normal way. her brain has never been seared or brûléed.

My brain was once cooked medium rare, like a steak.

I wonder if all medium rare things have OCD? Just cooked enough to be

Interesting to those who consume them.


     I have set out to make a career as a writer, a comedy writer, and for a long time I didn’t think I could do it if I was sick/sad/anxious/hungry; but I don’t think that anymore.

     Comedy comes in 2 forms, I believe: taking a funny situation very seriously and taking a very real situation lightly; this polar rule rules for this bipolar boy, as I swing my jokes swing with me and the sick boy and the funny boy can exist alongside each other.  

It’s a beautiful thought; I’ll let you know if it ever works for me.


Guy Fieri is my blood relative.

Not an uncle, that is too specific.

A distance, a cepheid blinking

On the edges of a family tree I have

Never looked at.

 

Nobody look it up,

Please, it is not that I am

Attached to the concept

So much as it has become

Attached to me.

People ask me every day

If it is true.

 

I say yes,

Why ruin the sick kids fun?

 

By: Brennan Staffieri

Dissecting the Imagined Past

knight

Credit: Pixabay

When I read a poem, the first thing I look for is strong and impactful imagery, something that captures my imagination and runs away with it. Kenyon Review’s latest online edition, The Poetics of Science, Laura Kolbe’s poem “Dissecting Blade” gripped my imagination tight and did just that. With a strong sense of how childhood can affect a writer in the present day through the opening “Every past-less child has a favorite false world,” I began to reflect on my own past and how it might have shaped my writing.

Right from the beginning, I’m carried off into the lands of make-believe that I traversed through my childhood, playing the hero wielding a sword of justice. The rich history Kolbe evokes, calling upon ancient Greece to more European trappings pulls me deep into the poem with lines such as “the violence of knights, or of more ancient men crouched/on dark heaths or Greek coasts,” drawing me away from the outside world. This displacement from reality is only temporary though, as the last stanza instigates a real world setting where the victorious sword is a scalpel, a weapon that can teach, a multipurpose tool.

Kolbe’s manipulation of imagery yanked me into her poem headfirst and had me back in time when I was in my own “favorite false world,” shifting me out of my current reality. Much like Silk Road’s upcoming issue on displacement in its variety of forms, Kolbe uses the concept of displacement as a nostalgic tool. The narrator is separated from their present and drawn into their childhood dreams to better illustrate the importance of their skills with the modern-day blade, a scalpel. Moreover, the phrasing of “every past-less child” signifies an even stronger sense of displacement from both the past and the present. It shifts the reader and the narrator from the present into a more imaginary past through the strong imagery and symbolism of a sword, which Kolbe uses to effectively invoke both a strength of will with the present occupation and the desire for something more. This desire for more stems from the “past-less” childhood and the idea of the imaginary realm which gives a “holy” sense to wielding the scalpel in the present. The idea of donning “the bridle and the robe” roughly mimics both a knight readying for battle as well as a priest readying for a sermon. These images then illustrate how dynamic and fluid the imagination can be, especially when relating it to Kolbe’s studies in medicine. And while the “sunless dream-light of the lab” isn’t the battle fervor setting of the past, it is still something that the narrator and reader can cling to and find immense meaning in.

For me, reading Kolbe’s poem opened quite a few doors into my own childhood and how the imaginary battles to save my kingdom relate to my current path as a writer. While I still look to the past and the worlds I created, my writing now looks towards all the possibilities in future fictional worlds and how they could affect me later. And while I may not wield a scalpel like a sword, my pens and pencils attempt that level of precision and mastery on the page.

By: Gillian Reimann