Friday, April 15, 2011

Diabetic, Hospice Amputee Outruns Death: “World Champion” Poem

Skoney, a diabetic amputee who was also mute and partially blind, epitomized “down, but not out.” My hospice volunteer experiences with him at the nursing home inspired me to write “World Champion,” a poem about his long-distance death journey. Although Skoney endured several close calls with death, he repeatedly overcame them until he eventually died one day. Observers couldn’t understand why he didn't give up sooner. Didn’t he know that death would make him free? Because he had no legs and was such a determined survivor, I viewed him as an Olympic marathon runner.

World Champion

Your bedridden body
wins survival marathons,
breaks records in life's
Olympic Games.
I touch your skeletal chest,
feel spirit of an aging heart
that outruns the Grim Reaper
in back-to-back wins.

Some pity your amputated legs,
anguished moans, unexpected
comebacks when death
competes with bare existence.
No one claps or cheers
for your personal-best pace
toward the final race
when you clear each hurdle.

They don't understand
why you won't give up
when you defend each challenge
to clock more blocks of time.
Your laps for life press onward
as you struggle to the finish,
grin like a World Champion
each time you grab the gold.

© Frances Shani Parker

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback at many booksellers in America and other countries and in e-book editions at Amazon and Barnes and Noble booksellers.


  1. What an awesome poem. I'm sure that her constant contact with this man made her acutely aware how hard we fight to stay; not because of fear, but because we were born to survive, no matter what has been given to us in this life. Very heartwarming and inspiring.

  2. An absolutely touching poem. It was a beautiful read from beginning to end. I enjoyed it very much. Thank you for sharing this.