Monday, December 11, 2017

"Four Signs Your Heart Is Quietly Failing" by Mike Oarlock

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present “Four Signs Your Heart Is Quietly Failing” by Mike Orlock.  Orlock is a retired high school teacher and coach who divides his time between Illinois, and Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin.

From 1989 to 2001, Orlock wrote film reviews for the Reporter-Progress newspapers in suburban Chicago and was a contributing member of the Chicago Film Critics Association. His short fiction has appeared in TriQuarterly, the literary journal of Northwestern University, and Another Chicago Magazine. He has twice been honored with Illinois Arts Council Awards for his short stories.

Orlock’s poetry has appeared in Your Daily Poem, the WFOP yearly calendars, Verse WisconsinThe Los Angeles Times, Blue Heron Review, Peninsula Pulse, and various other venues. In 2014 he won the Wisconsin Writers Association Jade Ring award in the Free Verse category, and in 2016 he won the WFOP Muse Prize. He is a member of the Unabridged Poetry Group in Door County, Wisconsin.

Four Signs Your Heart Is Quietly Failing
Mike Orlock


You wake the morning dreading
the day, suspicious of light
and all it reveals. Your mind
muddles reasons for keeping inside.
Behind walls you know safety--
for what you don't know 
you won't have to feel,
and what you don't feel 
you won't have to know.


Seasons no longer matter.
You look at a tree in spring
wearing a new gown of green
and all you see is a scandal
of under-dressed limbs.
That same tree in fall,
dressed for a ball, is a conspiracy
of leaves just waiting to turn
on you.


What once was languorous
is now merely tedious.
Afternoons are an abyss.
You stare into them 
and they stare back,
but the holes you see
you see are inside you,
deceptively deep and black.


Words refuse to sing.
Poems decline an invitation
to dance. You are left
at the altar, once again
to falter, too timid
to reach for romance.

Poet’s Notes:  The inspiration and title for this poem appeared in my inbox in the form of an online advertisement from Newsmax that promised delivery from a serious health condition that could end my life. Instead of medication, however, I thought poetry, for some reason. I used the ad's dire warning as a title and created my own symptoms for a failing heart.

Editor’s Note:  The rhyme scheme is enjoyable, and while the use of second person POV is always risky, the theme is universal enough that it works well here.  I especially like the wicked play-on-words at the end of the second part. 

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