top of page

Breath & Shadow

Fall 2018 - Vol. 15, Issue 4

"Lost Hope" and "Museum of Distractions"

written by

Wesley Sims

"Lost Hope" and "Museum of Distractions"

Written By

Wesley Sims

"Lost Hope"


Neurotic mother aligned against her,

called her names, criticized her artistic talents,

squashed her scholarship and plan for college,

thwarted her ambition, stripped away self-esteem,

programmed her for disappointments.

Her muted voice shrank behind a curtain

and trembled at the thought it might be parted.

She winced at her name, sought an alter identity.


Unable to shape her own future,

she ran away, took a job, traveled the world.

Unworthy haunted her like an ugly

stepsister, lurking, leering, laughing,

reminding her she didn’t deserve

a decent man, one who’d provide, protect, pamper,

shower with flowers, with kisses and valentines.

She looked askance at men, trusted none.

Losers and leavers came to court.

She had to banish the bad ones,

shy away from those with promise,

afraid to let them learn who she really was.

Love was a rainbow’s end,

viewable from a distance,

but a mirage, never reachable.


Late in life, cancer took root, ate

at her body and chewed up hope.

Doctors, nurses and hospitals

disappointed, mistreated, deceived her.

Pain and fear, a snarling pair of wolves

circled in with bared teeth.

Unable to cope, she put her life in order,

crafted a plan to end her misery,

in a final act of confident self-will.


"Museum of Distractions"

Give them a clinic that serves as a museum

of distractions, get their minds off

monkeys on their backs—the occluded

arteries, the malfunctioning heart valves,

the limping kidneys, the lungs

that huff like winded running backs.

Open their world with non-clinical architecture

like a gorgeous sculptured atrium

with graceful curves, sinusoidal balcony lines,

rectilinear roofs and polygonal skylights

that usher in radiance of sunshine.


Lead them by an elegant waterfall

where water navigates through smooth

gateways and sluices down distributary channels

like a healthy circulatory system.

Walk them down cheerful corridors

with pleasing, patterned carpets

and welcoming tiled floors.

Make museum walls of hallways,

lined with scenes of maple trees and lilies

beside a peaceful lake to soothe

their stuttering souls, calm their fluttering

hearts. Display vibrant paintings

that shout good morning. Greet them

with bold, bright colors that wake

the body and jump-start the brain.

Show them order and wholeness

with arcs and circles, parallel lines,

completed polygons. Surprise and delight

with a purple elephant and a red striped zebra.


Drabness they can find back home

on any given day with physicians,

nurses and aides in clothes

and tones of clinical sameness,

with long-faced family members

wearily watching the clock’s hands

dragged by the merciless master

time through one unchangeable

hour after another.

Wesley Sims has published one chapbook of poetry, When Night Comes (Finishing Line Press, 2013). His work has appeared in Connecticut Review, G.W. Review, South Carolina Review, Praxis Magazine, Liquid Imagination, The Avocet and others. He lives in Oak Ridge, TN.

bottom of page