Sybil Masquelier: Two poems - ‘Losing All the Nouns’ and ‘Migraineur’

Posted:  Friday, November 1, 2013 - 8:45am

Losing All the Nouns

The panic in your face
when you realize
I'm leaving,
shakes me.

The way you call your companion
"that person in the back seat"
is another indication your life
is peopled by strangers.

You are terrified.
You've pushed through
the emotion before, but now,
you cannot mask it.

Your memory has you cornered.
I'm amazed, anguished.
It gives me no pleasure
to see you this way.

You're still you, but less;
so much less than
when we were lovers on
our wedding day;

Less than when I was terrified
of the climb,
yet we laughed and posed
at the top of the Mayan temple;

Less than when I discovered the
letters of your mistress. You pleading
"It IS possible to love
two women at one time;"

Less than when we parted, and yet,
tentacles of the years – talks, dreams, troubles, love – kept me, Ishmael-like,
securely in your realm.

In spite of logic or fairness
caring remains. It just is.
As you sought fame and adulation,
did you know you already had it all?

Through dementia's haze
a reverse logic-alternate reality,
can you see that now? Is that your panic?


Migraine, full blown, more than just a headache.


We tell stories.

We tell stories to make sense of our lives.

We tell stories to communicate our experience of being alive.

We tell stories in our own distinct voice. Our own unique rhythm and tonality.

Transformations is a weekly story-telling column. The stories are written by community members who are my students. Our stories will be about family, love, loss and good times. We hope to make you laugh and cry. Maybe we will convince you to tell your stories.

— Kathrin Seitz
Kathrin Seitz teaches Method Writing in Rockport, New York City and Florida. She can be reached at

Migraine, You remind me of a tango.
The partner suddenly, with great
masculine force, snaps your body to his.
It must have a name, 'that move',
the one that takes your breath away.
If you have ever had a partner make 'that move',
you never forget it, or him.
All your senses are on fire.
Something primal, animal, threatening, glorious,
sadistic, total about it.
A little death, a death of will, possession.
The moment passes, the memory remains.
Of all the lovers in my life, only one had 'that move'.

Migraine, you're like that.
I see you coming before you arrive.
The static air's green-gray cast foretells and forebodes.
I can taste and smell that metallic air.
Calm before the brain's electrical storm.
Searing light.
Cracked, mosaic vision; peripheral sight gone.
You gain strength as you devour me.
The sheets chafe my heated skin each time I move.
The nausea gremlin seizes my core.
Stabbing, pulsating agony.
No music can soothe you.
My reasoning clouded,
my attention focused only on you,
Alienated from all I love.
You've no respect for me, my dreams, my plans,
the people important to me.
I'm your slave.
You stay until sated, long after I'm spent.
Migraine, my chronic disease, my lifelong condition,
my lifestyle.
Time thief-you hold that power every time you re-enter me.
Heightened awareness.
Familiar, exquisite pain.
You take my breath away, once again.

Sibyl Masquelier is currently writing a memoir. In January 2014, she will have completed eight years on the board of trustees of Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance, several of the last years as president. She is a charter board member of Global Press Institute since its founding, has served on the steering committee of Center for Maine Contemporary Art, and was the founding angel investor in 2006 and serves currently on the board of Seven Eagles Media Productions. She previously served six years on the Maine Womens Fund Board of Directors. In her recruiting career, Sibyl was an executive search consultant for 37 years working for the media industry, but also other industries. Early in this role in the 1970s, she conducted more than 50 searches in the petroleum industry, owned a boutique firm and worked throughout North America. In addition to normal search work, from 1994 to 2006, she served not only American-owned but also Swedish- and Spanish-owned companies in startup operations of 10 new businesses in the U.S. and Canada. Before this, she was an employment manager at the Miami Herald and personnel manager of Division of Family Services/Cuban Refugee Assistance Program in Florida's Dade and Monroe counties.