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Mens Sana / Mountain Fever

Poetry by Janet I. Buck
Medford, Oregon

Janet Buck

Janet Buck teaches writing and literature at the college level. She has published poetry in a wide variety of e-zines, journals, and anthologies around the world and received numerous creative writing awards. "Introspection's porcupine,"she says, "is an odd creature that comes in everyshape and size. The tangled roots of mine are whetted by the rains of being born disabled. I have spent most of my life using stoic pride to squeeze what toes I had and didn't have into the brutal shoe of normalcy. Poetry, for me, is a tuba in a long parade that chases sorrow and pain to its dissolution."

Mens Sana

The petty skies of normalcy.

The Great, great wall

of all the times I swallowed

customs of the world

and pushed my thighs

like cattle herded to a barn.


The temple one I didn't choose.

Where coffee mugs that

have a chip will lose their place

in cupboards of a passing day.

And methodology is weak

like pressure sores that

never heal. The portal veins

of redefining what is crazy,

what is sane.


The push and shove of fitting in.

Knowing that I should have left

the muddy shoe without a foot

upon the porch. Slamming doors

and crying jags I disinfected

for the eyes.


The resume of perfect legs.

Cut and pasted by the dream.

An orbit, merely, in the scheme

of understanding me.

Mountain Fever

A climb straight up to paradise

for bones that knew a body cast

and gravel beds of surgeries.

Steps that kissed like couples

under mistletoe. A blessing

in the happenstance that

they would let a crippled girl

attempt the straits of mountain roads.


Seven miles. Ascending dreams.

Legs that buckled on the path.

She swallowed hard and harder still.

Courage loose like silver fillings

dropping from a rotted tooth.

A single spill from fountain eyes

would mean they had to

turn around like cars

that lose their way in fog.


The lint of moaning syllables

the rains of Spring would wash away.

Stoic buttons popping off.

Her friends would stop to pick

them up and sew them on

behind her back to ease the

sting of waning pride.

Holding hands and forging on

as stirrups on a wild horse.

They understood the force of will

like hiccups that she couldn't stop.

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Published in In Motion Magazine March 30, 1998.