In response to MURI’S 2020 CHALLENGE FOR NATIONAL POETRY MONTH.  Like the 2019 challenge, this consists of 13 prompts, one for each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday in April. They can be completed in any order.  If you are interested in participating, click on the above link for the prompts and posting guidelines.

Prompt #2 is “Use the following words in a poem – willow, bird, tea.”  On my mind as I wrote my response was an article from last week’s New York Times wherein a nurse complained that the hospital she worked at was out of everything.  Not just ventilators and masks and gloves, but vital medications.  No sedatives for patients on ventilators.  No Tylenol for patients with fevers.  If hospitals cannot get their hands on Tylenol, what hope is there for the rest of us?  I pulled out a book I bought long ago, an encyclopedia of alternative medicine.  Mostly simple, common sense remedies—clove to soothe a toothache, ginger to calm an upset stomach, menthol and camphor to loosen chest congestion, honey and lemon to quiet a cough.  Roll your eyes if you want, but home remedies might be worth a shot when you’re suffering and there are no over-the-counter meds to be had.  Now’s the time to befriend that odd neighbor who knows about stuff like feverfew and St John’s wort.


Our neighbor, a strange bird is she
grinding bark from a white willow tree
with mortar and pestle
then boiling the kettle
to brew some homemade “headache tea”

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10 thoughts on “BUBBLE, BUBBLE, TOIL & TROUBLE

  1. slmret April 3, 2020 / 6:20 pm

    The old remedies do sometimes work better than others.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan April 3, 2020 / 9:39 pm

      Failing the availability of modern meds, I’d use alternative ones. Some are tried and true. Ginger ale was the official beverage of sickness when I was a kid. Mom smeared us with Vapo-Rub when we had chest congestion. Older relatives swore by hot toddies with honey and lemon to soothe a sore throat. White willow bark has aspirin-like properties. If worse comes to worst, I’ll be glad to have that book in my home library. 🙂


  2. slmret April 3, 2020 / 11:21 pm

    With a doctor in the family, we also had lots of ginger ale and 7-up, and bed rest, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. murisopsis April 3, 2020 / 11:31 pm

    Excellent! I do think that many of the old remedies were effective and lots of “modern” medicines are more refined versions of the folk cures… Yes willow bark contains Salicylic acid which is the same group of drugs as aspirin. Anyway a good book can be a life saver!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan April 5, 2020 / 10:18 am

      Oddly, people seemed heartier 2 or 3 generations ago–fewer illnesses, meds, trips to the doctor. People birthed babies at home and there was nothing Mercurochrome or Vapo-Rub couldn’t cure. LOL. Hubby lent me one of the books from his Humanities course–The Plague by Albert Camus. A little light reading while we’re in lockdown. 🙂


  4. lyart April 5, 2020 / 4:15 am

    so you do have a MNL, too – but obviously your’s is a medico neighbour lady

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan April 5, 2020 / 10:32 am

      At my old house. I haven’t met the Witch Doctor in my new neighborhood yet. 🙂


  5. circumstance227 April 5, 2020 / 7:01 pm

    I have to laugh that MNL has become a thing in other people’s blogs. I love these interconnections among my blog peeps.
    As for natural remedies – even all those horrendously scientific-sounding components of medicines also come from nature, so why not go back to the source material (minus the patents and profit margins)?
    On the other hand, this news about shortages of normal medicine adds another level of anxiety in me about what is happening in the States under our Moron-in-Chief and his stooges.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan April 5, 2020 / 8:15 pm

      I love the little clusters, too, small groups who all read each others blogs. Me, you, Lyart, Alison, maybe Kate. It’s fun how commentary spills over from one into the next. That’s one of the reasons I like WP. Life on FaceBook is so stagnant–I’m tired of misspelled words and toilet paper memes. Scary times here in the USA. Living through a bout of flu without Nyquil and Chloraseptic? Lord, kill me now. Or I could call my mom and ask how Grandma handled it when they were sick… VapoRub was a multi-purpose miracle drug in their household. They ate it, had it rubbed on their chests, and breathed it in using a gadget called a vaporizer and a tent made out of a bath towel. I’ve also heard it quiets a cough if you rub a generous amount on your feet at night then sleep with socks on. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • circumstance227 April 6, 2020 / 1:17 pm

        This comment of yours is a foreshadowing of my next post. (And I apologize in advance for the toilet paper reference!) I still use VapoRub and do the tent thing. My husband is big believer in vinegar foot wraps to bring down a fever.

        Liked by 1 person

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