A graphic of a red heart on a red, yellow, and orange background. Dark veins of different sizes are entering the picture from all sides and partially obstructing the heart

Migrating Salmon & heartbeat songs | a Poem For Pain Month

There is a roaring river beneath my skin, glacial ice flowing, collapsing everything in its path

Fish push through veins too small for them, swimming upstream

I feel my heartbeat everywhere

A trembling thud repeated and passed along, firing along corridors of joint and tissue

Durn dunh

Durn dunh

Durn dunh

In my fingers, one by one, a beat – keyboard style, like waves of smooth hypocritical staccato beats traveling from knuckle to knuckle. January March May July … the months with 31 days beat the most blood.

Ribs. Knees. Toes. Shoulders. Even a lower bicep?  All thumping in fractured rhythm not quite matching

My chest cavity: durrrn durrrn thump

The beat of chambers squeezing and sucking, siphoning and pumping, my whole body shuddering from a hidden melody harmonizing with the smaller notes in my jaw, my neck, my big toe …

A lullaby for sleep, an ache of repetition, heartbeat-torture.

I wish I had stubbed my toe – Oh! to throb from a temporary injury. But this is my chronic body reacting to its own trauma, forever trying to pump blood through a stubbed system, a broken body, trying to heal progressive damage that will never stop

This is the pattern and flow of my heartbeat.

It’s salmon season in my body, fish splitting the seams of tendons and spilling out, slippery and flopping over each other beneath my skin

The pain vibrates with the life of gilled-breathers waiting to be eaten by

A pain pill

To numb the salmon run coursing through the glacial river burning through my shaky body

I am a vessel of pain
A river of vibrating fish that hope to live
A body filled with desire to stop feeling the pain of migrating salmon and burning freezing water exploding past ligaments

To all the parts that make my body

Feel alive


If you’ve appreciated this poem, please consider a $3 tip via Ko-fi to support my advocacy & volunteer work. I live in poverty on SSDI, and this blog is a passion project to raise awareness of the realities of living with a lifelong chronic disease.

2 thoughts on “Migrating Salmon & heartbeat songs | a Poem For Pain Month”

  1. Thank You, once again. I could literally “feel” every part of my body, reacting to each & every word you wrote. No one knows this feeling, except those of us struggling with it, minute to minute, hour to hour, day to day, year after year, until…..eternity.
    (I wish I had an extra couple dollars, I would absolutely donate to your blog, but, along with the pain, I am also hungry tonight. My SSDI gets used up, the day after I get it. 😪
    But, THANK YOU AGAIN! It feels good to “not be alone ” ❤


    1. Maura, you’re so welcome. I’m glad I’m able to write what we experience. I only hope some healthy folks read this and understand how we feel. Please – I don’t expect people who are themselves impoverished to give me money! Stay as healthy as you can, Spondy.


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