Ode to Chronic Illness

By Clara Olivo

When the music hits it feels so good
Pero esas cumbias hit different
All over my body
the same way
the pain
rides through my nervous system
infecting every bit of me that moves
with every breath
every step
and the blink of my eyes
jumping across the pain scale
4 to 10 in less than 5 on a good day a solid 7 and you just


It used to be you had to hide
the feelings that infect you deep inside
Clench your teeth
(to the gritty grinding of the beat)
Jaw gets tighter

(extracting the high pitched twinging in your ears)

melodically balanced
with the gentle bravado
of your ex-halation

An ex-altation to the pain

grooving to the sweet sounds  
of the orchestra
A cacophony of oppression  
reverberating from my soul 
my body a conduit between  
this new age suffering 
and our historic struggle  
manifesting into this silent battle

 that I fight

migraine to migraine
backache to backache
Every sleepless night
Music is my liberation
the medicine to my soul
the bridge between two realms in which
I coexist
Longing to return
to the bittersweet nest
where the music echos into the waves
and travels oceans far and wide
just to find me again

This poems is one of many in Clara Olivo’s debut book/poetry collection, The Whisper, The Storm and The Light In Between from Alegria Publishing.

Clara Olivo (she/her/ella) is an Afro-Salvi poet living in diaspora. Born and raised in South Central LA to Salvadorean refugees, Clara weaves history and lived experience, creating transcendental poetry that amplifies ancestral power and pride. Writing for her lost inner child, Clara steps into her poetry with the intention of healing the hurts of her past and inspiring hope for the future. Since finding her voice, she has performed in open mics and art receptions from Seattle to Washington D.C. and has been featured in publications such as The South Seattle Emerald, Valiant Scribe, and Quiet Lightning’s Literary Mixtape. Clara lives in a quiet home on unceded Duwamish land with her partner, dog, and an ever-growing number of plants. You can follow her on Instagram @HijaDeMilagro and @TheDiasporicConnection and become a part of her journey.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: