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Facing a New Day

For the Hannah Moore Foundation challenge

By Stephen A. RoddewigPublished about a month ago 3 min read
Top Story - June 2024
Facing a New Day
Photo by Simon Berger on Unsplash

As days turn to months

turn to years,

you find things once unimaginable

no longer so absurd.


From running 5Ks

to barely able to walk.

From dating apps

to isolation.


Oh, but you’re never alone.

The pain is your constant companion.

Not some inner spiritual sort, to be clear.

Throbbing, stabbing, debilitating,



Not the metaphysical.

Very much the physical.


For years this has gone on.

When it wasn’t my knees,

it was my calves and ankles.

Something always letting me down.

Leaving me

to drown.


Just as you come to accept it,

so, too, do those around you.

They stop asking, stop caring,

move on with their lives.

And leave you behind.


Let me be clear:

I did not take these injuries sitting down.

For the most part, anyway.

I exercised, stretched,

took far too many NSAIDs.


And sometimes, progress would occur.

Enough to allow me to dream of tomorrow.

Only for it to be snatched away.

A new injury, a misstep:

always something to pull me

back down.


Until finally, you find yourself complacent.

Limited mobility is still mobility, is it not?

You can still walk, and that’s a blessing.

Let them joke about “Steve’s bad knees.”

Someday, they’ll understand.


Understand the strength

it takes to face each new day.

Understand the perseverance

to not let the demons win.


Until, at the start of this year,

I said, “Let’s try it again.”

I made the error, though I knew better:


I dared

to hope.


I didn’t do it for them.

I did it for me.


At first, the pain was worse,

and I wondered what the hell I was even doing.

But physical therapy worked its magic

and the milestones came rolling in.


Mundane things not so mundane:

I got out of a seat without pain,

I squatted to pick something off the floor,

I ran a lap around a building.


Still, nothing quite compares

to the emotional moment

when I got on the floor

and greeted the shoeboxes under my bed

for the first time in years.


Even so, the pain persists

but never greater than when I began this journey

and some days, less.

Oh, and those are glorious days.


And even when the pain returns

the progress remains.

I still squat, lunge, stretch,

and soldier my way forward.


Now I find myself taken with new emotion.

Not dread or despair as in the old days.

Not even so much hope

as impatience.


Me, who didn’t dare to dream

of a brighter tomorrow.

Now pushing to get a move on

and get there already.


All that pain:

physical, mental, emotional.

Try as it might

it never broke me.


So I embrace this frustration,

born of underlying optimism,

of hope.


I turn to my new-found companion and say,

“Lead the way.”


Author’s Note

At the risk of biasing the challenge judge (see below), I will come out and say: this is not my finest poem. I normally skirt away from this very subject because I know it will stoke a fire in me, and I don’t tend to write good, reflective poetry when it’s driven by rage.

But Hannah wanted stories of hope, and after my life turned upside down in October 2020, here’s a story of hope. Not the magical comeback story. “I was hurt, now I’m whole again.” No, this is the real, gritty, “fight for every inch of ground” kind. And like many struggles, I may win the war, the physical wounds may heal.

But the inner scars will remain.

Unless I do something to confront all the mental and emotional baggage of the past four years. This poem, in a small way, has contributed to that second battle.

And now, it’s time to go exercise.

Not running, the elliptical. My knees are too flared up for running today.

See? I told you not every story of hope is a neatly wrapped comeback story. It’s still a struggle. But it’s a struggle with a clear objective, now. And I’m already living a better life today than I was six months ago simply for making the attempt.

After so much turmoil and suffering, I’ll take it.

Free Verseinspirational

About the Creator

Stephen A. Roddewig

I am an award-winning author from Arlington, Virginia. Started with short stories, moved to novels.

...and on that note: A Bloody Business is now live! More details.

Proud member of the Horror Writers Association 🐦‍⬛


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Comments (19)

  • Cathy holmes14 days ago

    This is so inspirational, and so honest. Well done!

  • Congratulations on having your story featured as a top story on Vocal! This is a remarkable achievement, and it's clear why your work has received such recognition. Your storytelling is truly exceptional. The narrative was not only compelling but also beautifully crafted, holding my attention from start to finish. The way you developed the characters and plot was masterful, making the story both engaging and thought-provoking. Your unique voice and perspective shine through, setting your work apart. It’s evident that you poured a lot of passion and effort into this piece, and it has certainly paid off. I look forward to reading more of your incredible stories in the future. Keep up the fantastic work! Best regards, Dr. Jay

  • Raihana H.about a month ago

    Beautifully written! I can feel the words, what you went through. I'm happy how far you came through the struggles and waves. Congrats on that! It's a big milestone! And also congrats on the top story! The first step is the hardest and most painful.

  • What an inspirational poem. Pain sure isn’t one of my favourite companions! It’s keeping me from my 5 km jaunts this year, but I still have 2 feet, so one day in future, I should be back at it. Loved: ‘All that pain: physical, mental, emotional. Try as it might it never broke me.’👍🏼

  • Darkosabout a month ago

    Beautifully written and shared so real ❤️🌞🩷🌷 Congratulations on Top story ! Don't give up ! It will heal unexpectedly for real ! Keep practicing !

  • MrZabiabout a month ago

    Amazing story keep uploading

  • Hannah Mooreabout a month ago

    This is fantastic. Yes! The jagged edged grit of reality and lifting ourselves knowing the view is only a tiny bit better from the next step up, but lifting none the less. Love it.

  • ROCK about a month ago

    Astounding piece! Congratulations on Top Story!

  • D.K. Shepardabout a month ago

    Great piece for Hannah’s challenge! Like how you touched on hope not being a source of resolution but of resolve

  • Jabir Shooabout a month ago

    You deserve to be a Director

  • Fion about a month ago


  • Margaret Brennanabout a month ago

    congratulations on TS. I saw myself in every line. Diagnosed years ago with spinal and cervical stenosis, pain is my constant companion. Any type of pain reliever only dims the pain a bit but doesn't eradicate it. Often, I try to ignore it and work through it. Often ignorance is a bit of bliss.

  • Paul Stewartabout a month ago

    Stephen, chap, fella, horror association member, writer and all that jazz. This is just powerful, uplifting, beautifully penned and inspiring! Not surprised this got Top Story, sir, not surprised at all! And I loved the bit outside the poem too...especially the last paragraph or so...because that's what I've found with my own battles of stuff - it's not nice neat and hollywood, the ending...rarely...it's still filled with ups and downs, you just hope and fight for more ups than downs and try to learn from the downs. Anyway, well done on this!

  • Donna Fox (HKB)about a month ago

    For me it's never about word count, rhyme, rhythm or syllables in a poem... it's about the message, passion and feel you are left with when you walk away. Stephen, you left me feeling uplifted, hopeful and like each new tomorrow could carry the possibility of that "someday" we all hope for! You took me through a journey of a dark "moment" in your life and then brought us with out as you emerged out the other side! That is what give this poem so much power, the inspiration and passion which you stir within the reader! You may not feel pride because this was such a dark moment in your life and it was hard to emerge yourself in it once more. But that is also why you should feel immensely proud of this poem, because you cam out the other side and are willing to share that vulnerable side of yourself with it. A thing that a lot of writers why away from... Congratulations on Top Story Stephen but most of all congratulations on making it through to the other side of this struggle!! Great work, my friend!!

  • TahimaAniabout a month ago


  • Kendall Defoe about a month ago

    You should be proud(er) of what you've done here... 🏅

  • shanmuga priyaabout a month ago

    Congratulations 🎉

  • Christy Munsonabout a month ago

    This line in particular, for me, is very relatable: "And even when the pain returns the progress remains." Hanging on to hope is an act of bravery. Accepting that the bravery was worth it is another act of bravery. Conceding that these acts of bravery some days will not be enough, another act of bravery. Pushing through is the battle and the triumph. Rage on. And give yourself permission to do all you can and let it be enough. Congratulations on writing something so real and raw. And a shout out to Belle for pushing us all to write for this challenge.

  • JBazabout a month ago

    'Understand the perseverance to not let the demons win.' Great line, although they are just words it is the effort that drives you on, persistence motivates you. As you said this was and is not easy. I liked your comments after the poem, it helped relate.

Stephen A. RoddewigWritten by Stephen A. Roddewig

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