July 1

After the stroke

Sometime in the middle of New Year’s Night one year
The blood clot finished its long trip and made its big premier
It lodged itself there in my brain, cutting off some air
And that is when dear Death and I started our affair

But I didn’t have the slightest clue until I woke up tired
And I noticed my left arm was weak, as if it was mis-wired
I spoke in words I hadn’t planned, and yes my voice was slurred
My ex told me my face had fallen and my vision blurred

And in the hospital I knew that I had tasted Death
And Death had sampled me indeed and nibbled on my breath
He took some nerves while feasting there, oh yes, I lost my nerves
He took small pieces out of me like delicate hors d’oeuvres

If you’re like me, this feels unreal, a little hard to take
Because I’m so alive and HERE, smiling and awake
You can’t see Death masquerading as paralysis in my throat
I dare not swallow hard to the left, and give him room to gloat

And even if I point it out, you may not see awhile
How the left side of my mouth droops slightly floorward when I smile
That’s Death there tugging on my lips in asymmetric glee
He’s a prankster and a vandal, and I’m his playground, see

And because I’m such a gracious host, and a friendly face as well
Death has also turned my brain into an oyster shell
He watches my unfinished work, an aneurytic pearl
As it gathers blood like sand in every iridescent curl

But I owe him thanks for guarding me and giving me more time
So when he takes me over don’t accuse him of a crime
He’s just collecting on his debts, which you know we all must pay
And I’ll hold him like a lover when he carries me away

~ Liesl Dineen 2014



You rule over your two castles
They are enemy camps at war
You’re holding each side hostage
With razors on the door

But there’s terror building in your throat
And you think you have to choose
Maybe you can find your way to peace
Because I hate to see you lose

~ Liesl Dineen 2014


  1. Jeanne H.

    Your work astounds me. I am always pleased, scared, delighted or the emotion of whatever story you are telling. I think After the stroke is my new favorite. You touch on truths and expectations we all have. Thank you Liesl!

    1. it's nothing, really

      Wow, thank you so much. This means a lot to me, more than words can say.


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