Chronic Pain Haikus: A Complaint-Based Art Form


Much like the other estimated 50 million Americans who live with chronic pain, sometimes what I really need to do is communicate my pain. I’ve been primarily bed-bound for the last three months, recovering from extensive bilateral overuse injuries in my feet, ankles and legs, all of which are complications of my long-suffered but only recently diagnosed Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.

However, as I’ve communicated my pain to friends and family over these past months, after the past few years, I felt more and more like I was complaining. My pain changed character, even changed location, but always, it was just pain, pain, pain out of my mouth. Finally, I chose to lean into it and started writing a complaint-based art form I call “Chronic Pain Haikus.” I hope you enjoy them and that they bring you a chuckle or smile of wry recognition. 🙂

Mah feet. Mah feet hurt.
Mah feet. Dear baby Jesus.
Don’t you start, ankles.

red area of pain in ankle

I woke up to a
Giant knot in my shoulder.
Oh, fuck. Just perfect.

diagram of pain point in person's neck

What up, my ankles?
Post joint mobilization,
I feel you, throbbing.

doctor rubbing woman's ankle

But why, neck? why now?
Pulling, aching, and ripping …
*screams internally*

woman leaning back with long hair

I slept all damn day.
Sometimes, pain shows up as sleep.
Now, painsomnia!

person watching tv at night

You stupid braces.
Why you make my ankles hurt
Like so damn bad, bro?

ankle pain stock photo

I’m here and I’m queer;
Joint pain is moderate to
Severe. EDS!

EDS warrior skull and crossbones

Wake up in the morn’
Feelin’ like pure shitty. Got
My muscles … I’m out.

painting of hammer

“I’ll sleep through this pain,”
I tell my brain, which takes a
Breath, and keeps screaming.

pain in the brain stock photo

This is great timing,
Uterus. How can you make
My legs ache, so bad?

1 tip for decreasing period pain stock photo

I know you are all
Tired of hearing, but my
Legs hurt so damn bad.

red area in calf

Nausea today.
The same as it ever was,
At least for this week.

nausea stock photo

That tendon that runs
From my big toe to my arch
Can just fuck right off.

red area in the arch of the foot

Today’s inner thoughts:
Scream scream scream why god why breathe
Scream scream scream scream scream

abandoned hornet's nest that looks like person screaming

But my hamstrings, though.
So tight, so achy, and so
Radiating pain.

hamstring pain

These poems originally appeared on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr.


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