Richard Wagner
B. 5.22.1813 Leipzig / D. 2.13.1883 Venice
Heart Trouble


Laundry, contusion—so inextricably linked it's no wonder I postpone the day to the very threshold of bacteria's complete and odorous victory.
So tender a shin, tonight!
Repeatedly jarred and brutalized over the years by intractable laundry carts, my body must sense it coming—my sinews in league with my nerves (union and management colluding) decree delays; immensely long the stretches of sniff-testing and full-burgeoned ripeness.
Ah me!
Such an automatic bruise I don't even remember receiving it. Was the skin scraped and discolored just there when I showered and shaved it? Or later still in the front row at the theater where I caught myself ogling my own calves?
What an idiot!
Not that I recall. Although it must have been, in vain I wrack my recollections for an echo of the Ouch! I must have uttered—

* * * * *


Just knelt on the jagged side of a geode (don't ask) and now the throbbing makes me think of Steffi Graf. So much worse than this—in both knees even—yet still, for years, she played. And triumphed. What a woman.
That said, the Germans are a rotten crew. Good artists—good writers, composers, designers—good athletes—but then they do that, don't they—send Selves out to conquer. Out to topple thrones and records, nerves and gods.


Damn did I ever bite down on a bone shard among the selfish leftovers of the Indonesian entrée my vegetarian friend Jerry Orbach Jones couldn't sample in Chinatown the other night. Lodged it right up between two back teeth; rushed to floss it out; finally picked it free and then re-flossed myself raw. Back at my plate a stray star of pepper set the wound to flame; scarlet went the heavens in my head. Bass fiddles bassoons and timpani—rolling—receding.
Can I get an implement to drive this demon day-drama out of my flesh? Hour upon hour, spoon-y moods gouge me but it sticks fast; I languish. Bring me a spear, a weighted switch—a stake of mistletoe. Bring a grail, catch what you can.


The tips of two fingers ripped open by claws, as my cat Louise signals Come Back! at the end of a petting. (Pick a libretto.)


Nearly a week since my self-diagnosis of Temporomandibular joint disease a painful condition affecting the area where the lower jaw connects to the sides of the skull which impairs function and sensation in the face and jaw, which may spread to the ears, neck, and shoulders
and the pain facial pain; jaw joint pain; often in combination with neck, shoulder, back pain and/or headaches
comes and goes, still peaking at sundown, when it's joined by the popping popping, grating or clicking sounds with movement of the jaw joint.
Playing computer mah-johng from the Rodin's Thinker pose; (Medical research has not yet defined all the causes of TMJ.)
not reining in my jaw when it twists to follow my scampering thoughts—not training it to be still while I rummage and fume— oral habits
idiosyncrasies? Of course not—but are causes same or similar so common? More than 10 million people in the United States.
So unusually common? The majority, as high as 90 percent, of TMJ patients are women in their childbearing years.
My conviction— the jaw locking open or closed
Pure sentiment! ("a thought influenced by or proceeding from feeling or emotion")
Reasoned dreads, that is, and wishful expectations, surplus compassionating, worried plans—sentiment, swelling the walls of its temporomandibular refuge—underneath the jaw, where the baby's head would be. Because TMJ problems are poorly understood, patients' symptoms are often attributed to psychosomatic factors.
An evolutionary cul-de-sac where cooing noises go to huddle unexpressed. At present, there are more than 50 treatments in use ranging from very conservative, reversible therapies to more aggressive, invasive approaches. None of the surgical treatments for severe cases have been proven effective in long-term controlled clinical trials.

Quotations from The TMJ Association, Ltd. (2002)