My Brother Steve (Written in December 2008)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Today is a relatively good day. I’ve been chatting with my brother on the phone and with another patient who befriended him and does absolutely everything to make him comfortable. You see, my brother has been in the hospital for about five years straight. Due to a brain tumor (or what I understand it to be), he is paralysed on his right side and has trouble with his speech, especially if he is over-tired, which he is a lot lately.

I love this guy so much! He’s such a card. He loves making people laugh and there is nothing more intoxicating to me than hearing him burst into a fit of giggling. That sets me off while we’re talking on the phone and — even while I cry (for instance, when I’m overwhelmed by the terror of losing him) — he still has me falling right off the chair laughing at his hilarious stories, in an attack of emotional confusion.

Let me tell you more about him. Most people learn to talk and walk only once in their lives. This is not so in his life. He learned both twice and is once again, struggling to walk. By the way, he’s only fifty and has the resilience of a credit card frozen solid in a thick block of ice. Even with scalding water poured over it, that card is still buried deeply and untouchable for quite a long while.

That’s Steve’s big heart and soul. I admire him so much. And the tales I’ve got to tell are mind-blowing. I shake my head every day in amazement and try to find the resolve he displays every day of his life.

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Non-Fiction, Poetry, Women

My Poem – “Hard” – Originally Entitled “Fourteen” – True Story


If only I had known
How tough it would be
to be jump-started daily
by a vacuum cleaner hose
Cracked over my legs
And Mom’s shrill tones
Yelling, accusing.
Frantic, I fall out of bed
still shaking and sweating
ice from being locked up
Alone, last night in the attic.

Hope crystallizes and evaporates
I love yous and hugs do not exist
Only the verbal machete, punctuated
by blows from my own baseball bat.
While somewhere, laughter echoes from
A joke only I could not grasp.

At school, peer pressure dealt me
another nerve-grating punch
Piercing and curious eyes surveyed me
But I said nothing, so they did not see.
I was left fated to search faces
for warmth, compassion,
Or the answer to Why?

I have no idea
what I have done
Or how to alter my face,
Voice, laugh, cheekbones,
Eyes, expressions,
Interests and friends –
Everything you despise.
If only I had known how
Hard living this life would be.

Terry Gibson 2012.


This poem was originally entitled “Fourteen” for my age at the time.

Which do you like better?  Please leave a comment. Thanks so much!


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The instant

the enormity

of your suffering,

of your spirit deflating,

Crashed  against

Incalculable skies —

I knew I hadn’t been listening.


Terry Gibson 1993.


The poems from this year were written when I attended UBC’s Creative Writing Department. While I was doing what I loved, my oldest brother’s sudden death–within one and a half years of my Dad–sent me spiralling into a deep depression.

Given that, I’d love to hear from people on something. Do you see images in this? Anything? I’m trying to tap into my poetic self but am struggling. It helps to know that I love free verse.



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Non-Fiction, Poetry

Your Friend Always

I will be your friend always,
no gaps, no forgettings.
Not until the mountains are worn away
and the rivers are nothing but sand and rocks,
not until it thunders and lightning comes in winter
or until it snows in the summer,
or until heaven and earth are the same,
not until then will I leave you.

First century Chinese Friendship Oath.

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Naked, Drunk and Snoring

Really, I shouldn’t teach my Teika to take everything so literally.

When I returned to my office, she was bleary-eyed and had the electric shaver out–ready to go for the bald baby look.

That would’ve been so embarrassing! Had that happened, I couldn’t be seen in public with her.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to reject my little sweetie.

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Pain: Don’t Interfere With My Vacation

Today I feel like a ghost who is destined to lug a hundred pounds of chains around for eternity. Okay. Not really, but I am that pale.

Yes. I have had a bit of a bug the last few days. Exhaustion. However, I’ll power through it. I have books to read, write, and friends to talk to as well.

Did I mislead you by suggesting my horseback riding in Tucson was on Leap Day?  Did I actually say that? Or was it inferred?

When I saddled up in Arizona, it was August. Yes. We grabbed a cheap flight there. No. We did not notice that the heat would kill us.  Yes. We learned our lesson. Whew!  It packed quite a wallop.

It was about three months before my rheumatologist diagnosed me with RA (rheumatoid arthritis) and fibromyalgia. I had bad edema but couldn’t use my diuretic because I’d get dehydrated.  I was in agony.  I already suffered from chronic pain but the heat set fire to my skin.  The burning was relentless.  I was cranky.

Suddenly, I couldn’t even lift my leg the short distance to step up on the old two-tone green trolley. The driver and his young son, Silas, dressed in crisp white shirts and black pants, waited so patiently for me. They were so respectful, gentle and kind. Still, I felt humiliated and embarrassed.

One of my main goals on that trip was to go horseback riding.  Besides, people touted about how the Arizona weather would be great for me. I never thought it could make the pain worse.  Regardless, I vowed we would still follow through.  So we did!  I’m so glad too because I met Sugar, a chestnut-coloured horse with splotches of white on her rump.

Every little hill and dip in the terrain jolted me in Sugar’s saddle. Every time I ducked forward to avoid being knocked off by tree branches was excruciating.  It was the same as I pulled the reins and leaned back while we descended the steeper areas. I was a natural on a horse but my back muscles locked up as tight as a bank vault.

Despite all that, I loved the Sonoran desert. It was quiet. I got some great shots of cacti and different flowers. I patted Sugar’s strong back in appreciation. She was majestic. I even managed a half-smile when we finished the trail and were back at the ranch.  I laughed when they rolled the huge wagon wheel over again for me to step on while dismounting.  I did it!

A strange thing happened later in the evening. We watched a flash lightning storm from our hotel window and the kaleidoscopic colours wowed us. It was another gorgeous sunset.  Then we decided to walk across the street to the nearest convenience store for a cold drink.

“Oh My God!” a woman said, approaching us quickly, while we finished up at the cash. I heard her sandals clicking along the floor as she got closer.  Normally,  I would have stepped away but this time I didn’t; I was so happy, I felt invincible. My friend and I exchanged blank glances. “I can’t believe it!” she went on. We turned to face her with the sheen in our eyes unmistakable.

She was short, had jet black hair with flecks of blonde in it, and had the hands of a grandmother.  Her brown eyes were huge as she yanked the red sunglasses off her face.  Motioning with her hands, she cordoned off a huge and invisible circle around us. “I see angels all around you!”

“Really?” I said, not sure what else to say. I cracked open my diet pepsi and took a huge gulp. I instantly held the cold can against my right wrist, which was still swollen and sore.

“Yes!  Everywhere. They’re all around you!” She put her hand lightly on my forearm as she spoke.  I met her glance and saw that warmth and kindness oozed from her every pore. “I just HAD to tell you!”

“Thank you,” I said.  I smiled and clasped her hand gently for a few seconds, as if she was a long-time acquaintance.

That brief encounter in Mac’s reinforced my approach to everything. Inflammation will not stop me.  Flu or fatigue will not stop me. Thunderstorms and tornadoes will not stop me.  They may give me a super-bad hair day and contort me in pain like a Cirque de Soleil star.  However, I will still mosey on no matter what.


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Harness a Leap-Day Ride to the Sonoran Desert

Oh my gosh. I’ve only got one and a half hours to free myself!  What do I do or say?

I want to keep writing.

I want to laugh until my face hurts and I can hardly catch my breath.

I want to Zumba like there’s no sunrise again ever.

I want to sing Adele’s songs–not that I could ever do them justice–and take up the piano again.

I want to take some time and revel in the wondrous love in my life. The quality people in my life.

Last of all, I want to view the world from this perch much more often.

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A Quick Update

Hi Friends. I hope everyone is well and rockin’ their city, wherever they are.  I don’t know if I’m living up to that these days, but I’m certainly appreciating it every second. Yes. I’ll admit it; Vancouver is Awesome.  In my opinion, so is the entire globe, for I am a traveller.

Thanks for the emails. Several visitors sent spam, which won’t be published. Nor will any obscene or abusive comments.

Some people are looking for direction in writing.  I’ll share what works for me. Hopefully, you will too. We can build a writer’s community and benefit from each other.

This is the end of an exhausting day for me, so I’ll stop here for now. Tomorrow is another day to learn, grow, and get those words down.

Good night to all. A bientot.

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Embrace Writing This Leap Year and Spring


As February rounds the bend, I’m surprised at how eager I am for spring.  To me, there really hasn’t been a winter.  As I say that, I’m projecting pleading eyes upon the screens of everyone who is tasting brittle cold at this moment.  Forgive me.  I’ve become a west coaster.  Embrace it.  I have.

By the way, there was no response thus far on the previous post.  Curiously though, in the most recent hockey game between Vancouver and Nashville, while two players had a fist fight, Mr. Garrett said they were a good matchup. I found this a bit outrageous but that is another blog entry and not my main purpose here.

The idea is simple.  My story is yours. Yours is mine. They all are ours.  Stories make up the fabric of our lives; sharing and interweaving them is what I love.  Poetry. Fiction. Letters. Or cryptic little blurbs called tweets.

There is no right or wrong here.  No judgment.  Or–unless you want–me chasing after you insisting, “We really MUST talk about your work.”  Just recounting life. Embracing it. Feeling it. Sometimes cursing it.

Writing for what ails you. Maddens or bores you. Excites you. Makes you cry. Piques your interest. Reveals you. Makes you laugh until you almost pee yourself. Leaves you spent.

I’m game to write everything this leap year and spring.  How about you?



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Non-Fiction, Poetry

Freeing Myself Through A Poem By Marge Piercy


Freeing myself from within is a huge job for me.  I have been working on it, on different levels, for decades. Still, I find comfort in words that, at once, reveal and guide me through the seemingly endless maze. This poem always helps stoke my inner power, especially as I read it aloud.



A strong woman is a woman who is straining
A strong woman is a woman standing
on tiptoe and lifting a barbell
while trying to sing “Boris Godunov.”
A strong woman is a woman at work
cleaning out the cesspool of the ages,
and while she shovels, she talks about
how she doesn’t mind crying, it opens
the ducts of the eyes, and throwing up
develops the stomach muscles, and
she goes on shoveling with tears in her nose.
A strong woman is a woman in whose head
a voice is repeating, I told you so,
ugly, bad girl, bitch, nag, shrill, witch,
ballbuster, nobody will ever love you back,
why aren’t you feminine, why aren’t
you soft, why aren’t you quiet, why aren’t you dead?
A strong woman is a woman determined
to do something others are determined
not be done. She is pushing up on the bottom
of a lead coffin lid. She is trying to raise
a manhole cover with her head, she is trying
to butt her way through a steel wall.
Her head hurts. People waiting for the hole
to be made say, hurry, you’re so strong.
A strong woman is a woman bleeding
inside. A strong woman is a woman making
herself strong every morning while her teeth
loosen and her back throbs. Every baby,
a tooth, midwives used to say, and now
every battle a scar. A strong woman
is a mass of scar tissue that aches
when it rains and wounds that bleed
when you bump them and memories that get up
in the night and pace in boots to and fro.
A strong woman is a woman who craves love
like oxygen or she turns blue choking.
A strong woman is a woman who loves
strongly and weeps strongly and is strongly
terrified and has strong needs. A strong woman is strong
in words, in action, in connection, in feeling;
she is not strong as a stone but as a wolf
suckling her young. Strength is not in her, but she
enacts it as the wind fills a sail.
What comforts her is others loving
her equally for the strength and for the weakness
from which it issues, lightning from a cloud.
Lightning stuns. In rain, the clouds disperse.
Only water of connection remains,
flowing through us. Strong is what we make
each other. Until we are all strong together,
a strong woman is a woman strongly afraid.

Marge Piercy

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