Myrtle Beach poet finds hope, inspiration in coronavirus fight

Myrtle Beach poet finds hope, inspiration in coronavirus fight

Health

When times get difficult, Myrtle Beach resident Paul Hickey uses poetry as a way to cope and offer solace to others.

In the darkness, Myrtle Beach resident Paul Hickey finds glimmers of light.
For years, major world events such as the Sept. 11 terror attacks have compelled Hickey to write poetry as a way to cope. And now, the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has once again triggered the New York native to pound out one poem after another.
“I know that everyone is hunkering down during this coronavirus pandemic, but I’d like to offer some words of solace through my poetry,” says Hickey, who lives with his wife, Ellen, in the Cresswind community of Myrtle Beach. “My only objective is to get it out of my head, and it’s even better if I can inspire or encourage others. It is therapy for me.”

Words of caution, hope and gratitude

Writing poetry is a hobby this retired U.S. Department of Defense employee picked up in 2005. He says he woke up in the middle of the night with an undeniable compulsion to write. His first piece — 20 pages of poetry — was inspired by his love of Brooklyn Dodgers baseball and the World Series.
With help from a friend, the poems were later put to music, and proceeds Hickey made from sales were donated to the Brooklyn Wall of Remembrance in MCU Park in honor of those who’d lost their lives during the Sept. 11 attacks.

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Since then, Hickey says he’s written mainly about the heroics of firefighters, police, first responders and the military, but major world events have also driven his penmanship.
“I can’t stop it,” he says about his writing. “It just comes to me, and I have to sit down and write to get it out. It seems to be very spontaneous. It’s almost like somebody is telling me to sit down and write. I feel like a transcriber.”

Coping with COVID-19

In March, as COVID-19 began sweeping the nation, Hickey turned to writing poetry as a way to cope.
One of the first poems Hickey penned focuses on staying positive.

Coping with COVID

It’s not a joke
That’s for sure
But we must smile
So we can endure

The bars are closed
So are the cafés
We must eat at home
There’re no cards to play

The clubhouse is closed
The pool has been drained
And stayin’ at home
Is driving me insane!

But hey! We are strong
And we’ve been through much worse
Today it seems bad
But it’s not a curse

If John Wayne were here
He’d cut through the fray
“Courage is being scared to death
Then saddling up anyway.”

Praising health care workers

Medical professionals don’t always get the recognition and respect they deserve, Hickey says. Nearly six weeks ago, Hickey had shoulder replacement surgery at Tidelands Waccamaw Community Hospital in Murrells Inlet, where he says he received outstanding care.
Hickey injured his shoulder in a skiing accident 25 years ago and underwent two prior operations.

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Persistent pain from his shoulder injury coupled with the development of arthritis in the joint drove Hickey to seek help at Tidelands Health Orthopedics at The Market Common. After discussing the situation with his medical team, Hickey decided to undergo shoulder replacement surgery.
“The surgery was successful,” Hickey says. “And the recovery, while painful, is progressing nicely. Dr. Mark Rowley is an exceptional surgeon. I would nominate him for an award.”
Hickey’s appreciation for the medical care he received, as well as the work of health care providers in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, inspired him to pay tribute in another poem.

Taking the Pulse

New Orleans is at a standstill
New York is gripped with fear
LA has closed up shop
Chicago has sheltered in place

From state to state, city to city
The Town Crier has alerted the public
“Stay at home. Don’t come out.”
We need to stop the spread.

But in the midst of it all
Heroes emerge from the shadows
Doctors and nurses risk their own lives
To serve others and defend the country

These Silent Soldiers race to the Front
They give their all, then collapse
Drained from the battle
Exhausted from the fight

What can we say to these brave warriors?
How do we show our gratitude?
The simplest message may be the best
“Thank you. Thank you. We love you.”

Heroes emerge from the crisis

Hickey and his wife are coping as best they can, staying at home and keeping a check on neighbors in their close-knit community of Cresswind. Recognizing the importance of social distancing, a practice encouraged by public health officials, Tidelands Health and others, the couple has been using video chatting, texting and phone calls to stay in touch with friends and family.

Hickey says he's looking forward to a return to normal after the coronavirus pandemic wains.

When the pandemic wains, Hickey says he’s most looking forward to “going out to dinner and hearing the sounds of people laughing.”
He says he’s been impressed by people’s resiliency and kindness despite being asked to limit contact with each other.
“It is in these times of trouble when we often see the best in people,” he says.
If there’s anything to glean from the whole pandemic experience, Hickey says, it’s that “we can learn who our real heroes are.”

To read more of Hickey’s poems, click here.

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