Momentary Lapses

This blog was created during a momentary lapse, a period when I'm stuck in my writing and trying to jog something loose in my brain or push myself so close to deadline that I can kill, without remorse, the beloved opening or headline or quote that is keeping me from moving forward. Most of my posts here will have to do with writing, including occasional Favorite Writing Quotes (FWQs). Please share yours, and your comments, too.

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Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States

Monday, March 03, 2008

Got Blood?

Jan Brogan at was kind enough to describe this blog as both humorous and profound. Certainly, there is a long literary tradition of the two going hand-in-hand, from the Satires of Juvenal (nope, can't quote any) to Jane Austen, Mark Twain and Erma Bombeck. I can't always live up to Jan's billing, but this piece is one I delivered last month at the Red Cross Apheresis Blood Donors dinner. I hope you enjoy it and--for mystery writers, in particular--consider giving back some of the blood you spill on your pages.

The Wall
By Maureen Walsh

Another day at the spa in my big comfy seat,
No laundry to fold as I watch the TV,
No telephone calls interrupting my reading,
No kids calling “Mom!” No dog needing feeding.
Warm blankets, cold beverages, baskets of food—
All for the price of some donated blood.
Now I’m done for the day, getting set to depart;
The donor specialist makes a note in my chart.
“Shall we schedule your next donation?” she says,
And all the reasons “Not To” run through my head:

My schedule’s uncertain, I can’t pick a date.
Between work and my family, there’s a lot on my plate.
I’ve got meetings and projects and deadlines upcoming,
And a guy dropping by to check out the plumbing.
The house needs a cleaning from attic to basement,
My sluggish computer’s in need of “defragment.”
My kid’s birthday’s next week, so I’ve shopping to do,
And I still haven’t gotten my shot for the flu.
My car’s making a noise that’s got to be checked,
And there’s an elderly neighbor I mustn’t neglect.
I should call when my calendar’s not quite so full...

But before I can say it, I notice—The Wall:

The pictures of people, every age, shape and size,
Their smiles bright with courage and hope in their eyes.
I read all their names, I read every story,
And two words that seem to be written just for me:
“Thank you” and “Thank you” and “Thank you” again,
Like each one has reached out and shaken my hand
And said “Thank you for donating platelets today,
So I could go shopping, so my daughter could play,
So my husband could walk with me down to the beach,
So the small pleasures of living are still within reach.”

“Thank you for energy, stamina, strength,
For a life that is richer, no matter the length,
Because of the gift you have given us here,
Because you didn’t wait till your schedule was clear.
Thank you for making the time to keep coming,
Despite birthdays and deadlines and clogs in the plumbing.
We know your time’s precious, and we treasure each hour
Of living you give us by sharing the power
Of plasma and platelets and red cells and more,
Of the elixir of life we can’t get from a store.
We can’t grow it or mix up a chemical brew,
So thank you for sharing the gift that is You.”

With their faces and voices filling my head,
I smiled at my friend with the chart and I said,
“I want to make 20 donations before the year ends,
And what’s more, I’ll work on bringing my friends.
I’ll reschedule today, so you don’t have to call.
I can always make time for my friends on The Wall.”


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm having trouble writing this as I have tears in my eyes.

I haven't given blood in quite a while, for all the reasons you set forth, but you've inspired me to do it (as soon as I get over the flu)!

11:59 AM  
Blogger AliasMo said...

Thanks for checking in! I hope you're better soon and able to get back in the donor habit.

1:03 PM  
Blogger R.J. Mangahas said...

Beautifully written Mo. My mother's life was improved because of a blood donation. I wish I could give blood, but I have diabetes and would hate to pass that to someone else. Makes me feel kind of guilty in a way. Because someone's donated blood helped my mom, I really want to help in the same way.

2:02 PM  
Anonymous Jan Brogan said...

Hi Mo,
I'm O-negative, the universal donar. But if you go to the Dominican Republic on vacation, you can't give blood for a year. (Makes you wonder about your vacation choices.)
But on the other hand, it did get me off the blood telemarketing list for a while. So it was like two vacations in one
I'll be back in business after June, thinking about your poem next time I donate. The good news about O-negative is they always want the whole blood, so it's a lot quicker.

2:15 PM  
Blogger AliasMo said...

Hi, RJ - I'm glad your Mom was able to get the blood she needed to improve her life. Diabetes may not keep you from donating if your general health is good and you haven't received bovine insulin. You won't pass on diabetes. Check with your donor center.

Hi, Jan - I do sometimes feel as if I lead a really boring life when I have to answer "No" to all those questions. The travel ones are the only ones I'm looking to change! So here's my question: Where do the Dominicans get blood?

12:40 PM  
Anonymous Neena said...

Well said.

10:54 AM  
Blogger AliasMo said...

Thanks, Neena. I hope everyone makes time during the holidays to give blood.

7:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a wonderful poem! I work for a local community blood center and thought your poem was truly dead-on and very effective. I prayed for a job where I would be working with a company that did a good for others in the community and made a difference in people's lives and this is the job I was led to. Would it be okay to share your poem with our platelet donors in the Augusta GA area? You would be able to touch and inspire others to donate way down here in the South!!! Please let me know and I will send you my contact info. =o) Signed,
"Got Blood?" Poem Fan
& Blood Donor Supporter

1:45 PM  
Blogger AliasMo said...

Poem Fan,

I'm glad you enjoyed "Got Blood?" and you are welcome to use it to promote donations in your area. Same goes for anyone else. I would ask you to include a credit line "by Mo Walsh". Thanks!


3:21 PM  

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