Back in the Swing?
Cliff begins to recover from a painfully crippling bout of acute edema, during which over the course of four weeks he accumulated an estimated 40 pounds of fluid just in his feet, calves, and lower thighs alone. Quite a sight to see, indeed! like Popeye's arms, almost! Edema is well-known as a common sign that mortality from Hepatitis C is about to set in; Cliff has played host to that virus for 27 years. The doctors acted as if conducting the Radiology tests were more of a formality than anything, so certain they were that this was the problem. So he spent almost a month remembering -- and weeping -- and eventually lost a few friends over what they called their "inability to handle death." Right!
Back in the Swing?
(Hey! Let's Sing!)
by Cliff Walker
Those medical powers that be
Have determined, now, not to croak me
So I'll dash off this letter to thee
Asking how I might "carry a key"!*
The apartment boss married this clown
And we heathens he saw with a frown
Then he started to jump up and down
So I moved to the wrong side of town
Then my legs, they swelled up to the worst
That I've seen! Sixty pounds! I might burst!
To a young death, the docs said I'm cursed
"That Hep-C's what we suspect first!"
That good friend I know you once knew?
Who by then was my only friend, too!
To my pain she gave one quick review
And said, "Fuck this!" and onward she flew!
And so helpless, alone, left to die,
And with only to watch time fly by
(Those big shoes I could not even tie!),
To the sky will I break down and cry
No ride to the doc's (I was stuck!)
When ol' Gerry‡ drove by in her truck
Took one look, and cried out, "What the fuck!?"
But still hoping I'd soon see some luck
And I did, now, and wouldn't you know?
Those doctors just wanted more dough!
Their scanners they sent all aglow
But no damage from Hep-C did show!
So now that I walk with a cane
And without all that much of a strain
"Would you harmonize on the refrain?"
This is what I must now ascertain:
I can get to your gig on the bus
But with you I would like to discuss
"If I'm really polite and don't cuss
Would a ride home be much of a fuss?"
* "Carry a key" has long been Cliff's multi-level pun describing how many wannabe singers solve a specific problem regarding a certain thing that they simply cannot do (to save their lives)!
† Acutely shy and socially inept, Cliff long ago resigned to living a life buried in his work. Now and then, some brave soul dares to break through this otherwise impenetrable barrier. Part of this poem is to lament the down-side of such an arrangement. This also explains why Joe Cocker's "With a Little Help From Me Friends" has, from the start, been Cliff's signature tune.
‡ Gerry is a well-known Oregon karaoke septuagenarian and retired nurse. Still active in many sports, Gerry has a rather salty disposition that can be nullified by learning to sing a single Tony Bennett song.