Saturday, September 24, 2016

Guinea Pig

In 1980 I was in the US Navy, stationed on the USS Tunny SSN 682, undergoing overhaul in the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard. On one of my duty days the shipyard workers started coming into the engine room wearing respirators and paper suits. They then began tearing out the lagging that surround the steam pipes in the engine room. I and the other nuclear power watch standers that day were never told to wear respirators or any other protective equipment. We spent an entire 24 hr duty day in that environment. The air was white with dust from the lagging that the shipyard workers were tearing off the steam pipes. Not once did a shipyard worker say a word to us although they looked at us strangely as they passed us in their respirators on their way in and out of the engine room. We even joked around about it among ourselves. A couple days after that day the 'nukes' in my duty section were all told to report to the dispensary at Pearl Harbor. When we got there we were taken into a room where a Navy doctor informed us that we had all received a severe asbestos exposure and we were being placed on a 'life long' monitor program with evaluations to be performed every 5 years. I had two exams before I got out of the Navy in 1989. I never pursued it after that and as a civilian the Navy had no power to make me continue in their 'life long' monitoring program. They didn't know as much about asbestos exposure in 1980 as they do today.

For the last several years I have been experiencing different health problems with my stomach and mucus build up in my throat, ears and lungs. The VA kept blowing it off and telling me it was GERD or LPR (Larnyx Phargeal Reflux) then raising my reflux medicine to the point where I am now taking 5 pills a day. In the meantime my health issues continued to worsen to the point where I have to take 1200 mg of guaifenesin twice a day just to be able to sleep and function without coughing uncontrollably. I started thinking about the asbestos exposure I received in the Navy and started doing some research. I found that many of the symptoms I have been experiencing are very similar to mesothelioma and other asbestos related diseases. These are diseases that very few doctors know how to diagnose because the symptoms mimic so many other diseases. The symptoms don't show up for 20 to 50 years after the exposure and even when they do most doctors don't attribute it to asbestos unless they are specialists in the field. I talked to the VA about my exposure and they have scheduled me for a CT scan on the 30th of September which is usually a starting point for diagnosing mesothelioma or asbestosis.

The survival rate for mesothelioma once symptoms begin showing up is about 12 months. There is no cure. I don't know what the results of the CT scan are going to reveal. I'm not afraid either way. I know God will take care of me either in this world or the world to come. I have tried to reach out to a couple people who stood duty with me that day on the Tunny but haven't had any luck locating them. I hope they are ok. I have tried a few ship crew websites and found a few people who were on the Tunny with me but none of the people who stood duty with me that day.

Am I angry? I'd be lying if I said no. I'm not angry that my life might not be as long as I think it should be. That is and always has been in God's hands. What I am angry about is I have been replaying the events that occurred and have come to the conclusion that we were used by the Navy. I'm not sure how else to explain the fact that within a couple days of the incident they already had a 'life long' monitoring program in place or how the Navy knew about it in the first place. When I was telling a VA nurse about it she couldn't believe that they let us spend the day in that environment. I looked at her and said  "it almost feels like an experiment doesn't it?" She just nodded her head and went back to writing in my chart.

Through it All

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”   John 14:6-7
I have been on both sides of the fence,
I have been everywhere in-between;
I have worked for hundreds
of thousands of dollars,
I have worked for minimum wage,
I have tasted a life of privilege,
I have known the hopelessness
of poverty;
I have witnessed first hand,
the devastation of losing
I have worked at a desk,
using only my mind and fingers,
I have worked back-breaking jobs
that no one should have to do;
I have seen people at their best,
I have seen people at their worst;
I have entered dark places from
which very few survive,
I have stood on the edge
as the god of this world,
quietly whispered in my ear;
“just one more step;”
I have seen demons,
dark and evil,
drive past in a car,
as I rode a bike
down the road;
I have talked with an angel,
her name was Vena,
she held my hand
as I lay in a hospital bed
having a heart attack;
I have seen people destroyed
by the very things from which
I was saved;
through it all,
You have been there
for as long as I can
quietly watching,
softly calling,
patiently waiting,
through it all You have
lifted me up when I could not
stand on my own,
saving me when no one
else could,
protecting me when no one
else would,
through it all You have
given me an education
that no college could provide,
no amount of money
could buy,
teaching me humility
and compassion,
helping me to stand,
allowing me to fall,
showing me the illusion
surrounding this world,
the lies that trap so many
who do not even know
they are trapped;
no one makes it out of this life
without You,
no one comes to the Father
but though You.


Where Now America?

where now
your playgrounds and sandlots
lie empty,
as your youth
grow tired and disillusioned,
hanging out at the mall,
gathering in clumps and clusters,
wearing hundred dollar rags,
wrapped up in coolness,
struggling to be ghetto,
jaded with knowledge,
dripping with sarcasm;
nobody’s fool;
ice flowing through their veins,
filth dripping from their lips,
incapable of genuine laughter,
void of dreams,
growing old
before their time;
south jersey farm boys,
full of TV bravado and
James Dean machismo,
daddy’s good little girls,
playing MTV hoes,
busy being
trash talking, lil bitch wannabes,
joking about
giving blowjobs for a dollar;
generation X,
childhood gone,
innocence lost
where now
where now?


Friday, September 23, 2016

The Ballad of Rico and Annabelle

Rico is dying,
every day he tells his friends
he is getting better,
every day he grows worse;
he has been to places,
no one should be,
he has seen things,
no one should see;
Annabelle lives alone,
she sits in her box like Greta Garbo,
isolated and alone,
dusted and sheik,
no reason for living,
no reason for dying,
traveling into the hidden night,
without a thought or care;
Rico is in love with Annabelle,
he has loved her for as long as he can remember,
everyday he sees her pass by,
everyday he remains quiet,
everyday he stares passively into the sky,
that is the way of love;
it is best left unsaid;
Annabelle has waited all her life,
she holds Rico in her arms,
she sees him in her dreams,
she kisses his lips,
she caresses his face,
they make love in her mind;
life begins,
life ends,
this is the way of things,
there’s never enough time;
farewell my friends.


Thursday, September 22, 2016


When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.   Luke 5:8-11
Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”   Mark 5:36
my soul has tasted madness,
my soul lies dying in the dust,
choking on the excess,
drowning in the lust,
caught up in the illusion,
dried up,
no where left to turn,
no where left to run,
guilty as charged;
once again You
raise me from the depths,
once again You
wrap me in Your love,
Your righteousness and glory
more than my filth ridden flesh
can bear,
Your perfection
overwhelming the imperfection
of all that I am;
Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!
once again You quietly whisper;
Don’t be afraid; just believe;
my God,
my King,
my Everything.


The Way of Truth

lost in this sea of darkness,
sentenced to die from the day we are born,
guilty as charged, eternally separated,
forever gone;
the dreams of men are like birds on the wind,
shifting and rearranging,
living and dying,
here today,
gone tomorrow;
there are many roads in life,
leading to far-away, unknown destinations,
creating their own specific brand of justification,
finding their own particular version of truth,
but no matter how many truths we create,
no matter how many different ways we want to believe;
there is only one truth,
there is only one way,
there is only one road;
it does not bend to fit our ideas or desires,
it does not go in the direction we demand it to go,
it is final,
it is absolute;
that is how truth works;
today I stop living the dreams of men,
today I begin living the truth of God,
fill me with hope and joy,
remove this sadness and despair,
show me how to love as You loved us,
teach me how to live as You lived for us;
enter through the narrow gate,
for wide is the gate and broad is the road
that leads to destruction,
and many enter through it,
but small is the gate and narrow the road
that leads to life,
and only a few find it.


Sunday, September 11, 2016

Hawaiian Nights

riding thru the starlit night,
cruising on this Harley Davidson killer machine,
black and sleek,
like a giant panther seeking its prey;
he is the king;
hanging on tight,
becoming one with the man,
becoming one with the road and stars,
her soul is his soul,
their soul is the hammer of pistons and gears;
she is the queen;
king and queen of darkness,
of heaven, hell and earth,
the ocean surf pounds the rocky beach,
the sweet smelling smoke fills their minds,
sea and land come together,
their world is that of endless time,
swirling, whirling tides of pleasure,
changing shades of darkness and light,
shifting, blowing desert sands.



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