Three Poems by Jim (Telk) Elkus

Stage 4

She told me I had gastric cancer,

Stage 4

I kept saying to myself,

Stage 4

Stage 4

People ask me what kind of cancer I have.

I say gastric cancer, and to myself I say

Stage 4

People tell me that I look great, so healthy.

And I think:

Yeah, but it has nothing to do with what is going on inside of me, because it is

Stage 4

I keep thinking,

Stage 4

Stage 4

Stage 4

But then I think that as long as I can keep saying to myself

Stage 4,

I am still here.

So maybe it will be my new mantra for meditation.

(Breathe in)

Stage 4 (Breathe out)

(Breathe in)

Stage 4 (Breathe out)

(Breathe in)

Stage 4 (Breathe out)

(Breathe in)

Stage 4 (Breathe out)


The Fall from Certainty

Once there was the body and the mind.

That was it.

Between them, and in their interplay, all was explained.

Or so I thought.

Then, one day, I lost something.

A part of myself.

The feeling part.

My body and mind were working well enough

(although some might argue about the mind part),

But I could not feel.

I could not connect.

I could not care.

I knew what I was supposed to feel – awe at the sunrise, that special connection at the spark in my lover’s eyes.

And, mostly, I could act as if I felt it.

I hoped, I think, that if I acted feeling, the feelings would return.

But they did not.

It was an act.

I had become a fraud.

With the help of some friends – guides, I should say – I regained what I had lost.

I know now more than I ever have how precious it is.

And I have fallen from certainty,

For I have lost and regained something which was neither body nor mind.

Something I felt never existed.

So there must be more than that.

What does it mean?

What is it?

Some would call it the soul.

I am suspended between belief and disbelief.


Where Are They?

Believers will almost always talk of their faith.

Naysayers will almost always say nay.

Why are the uncertain so often silent?

Is it to avoid attempted conversion, either to belief or disbelief?

Or is it out of fear that a lack of commitment will be seen as a lack of character?

Those of faith have their communities.

Those who do not believe have theirs.

Where is mine?

The community of the confused, the bewildered, the unsure.


Header photo by Corinne Bayley