Archives for posts with tag: cancer

It is oddly distant, seen through the window,
only more so through binoculars.
I am the only one watching—Arlen is asleep,
receiving a blood transfusion.
He is not excited; he is tired.
I imagine many of the children are sleeping,
and as many watching TV,
as are actually watching from the VIP section.
I can’t imagine the parade means much
to the longtime patients here.
It’s one way or another—
either there is no Santa Claus, or
he’s here everyday—giving some a future,
while others die waiting for their present.
It is the bands marching by silently
that starts me crying, Play you bastards, play,
serenade those kids you pass, let them hear
your horns blow, drums pound, all and any amount of sound
you can manage to commemorate the ones still here,
and let each note remind Santa of the ones who are gone.

I am angry. I’m walking to the hospital
so I will not drive. I am afraid of what
I would do behind the wheel of a car.
I hate everyone. I cannot bear to look at them
smile, talk, laugh with each other, hold hands;
I would like to see them suffer as I suffer,
I would like to see them lose everything they
hold precious, I would like to see them die like flies.

I stand paralysed on my way to the hospital
I cannot continue. I cannot live this way.
This isn’t me. I try to remember—each person
I pass for that moment, is the face of God,
and I must not forget. I must honour the God
in each of us.

I am angry. I walk to the hospital, surrounded
by God and his work. I struggle to let go,
soothe the anxiety that lies behind it, to see this
instant the beauty that surrounds me on this city
street filled with the living who show me the Face
of God. To take from each of them a blessing as I
go to face another day of fear and sorrow. To walk
through the Valley of Death unafraid.

It cannot be heard during the day,
for the Atrium echoes with voices
of children endlessly excited by the potential
of reverberation, and that is natural.
It cannot be heard in the din of I.V. alarms,
intercom pagings & Code Red announcements;
these are definitely the sounds—but not the song.

You hear it at night, the song of the hospital.
A simple song: two notes, rise and fall.
Mother’s hum to her sleeping child, the breath
of vented air; sharp sudden cries from far away
that hush or wail with no apparent rhythm. It is
the hospital in song—life, death, life, death,
misery, joy, sickness, health; the song sings
a golden rage, a silent sound, an infinite array
of prayers, dreams, promises, fears, their object
lost, then found; it washes over them and recedes,
always in grasp, never held onto; lost, then found, lost,
found again, lyric verse, words undone, melody found;
lost, back to monotonous cleave, a vision,
a nightmare, the song is sung again, cello beat
of string, sigh of winds and plumbing,
whale song issues from inaudible depths; inhale,
exhale, a mother’s grief, a mother’s joy;
it is late, it is early, it is three in the morning;
tuba notes, white noise of the radio, the punching
of pillows wrapped around the head tight.

I love you
yes I do
even when I think
I hate you


Tummy and legs, tummy and legs,
where does the farmer keep his eggs?
Back & arms, back & arms,
he keeps them warm in little barns!
Cows and calves, lambs and sheep
how many pigs does the farmer keep?
How many pigs does the farmer keep!
Enough questions—come back next week!

I’ll eat your ears

I’ll eat your ears, I’ll eat your ears!
they’re so tremendously delicious I’ll eat them I fear.
I’ll nibble your toes, do you suppose
if you were royal I’d eat garter and nose?
Oh hold your nose, forget the toes, no need to despair,
I won’t eat your hair; but, if I change gears I’m certain
I’ll try to eat your ears. Li’l nibbly, oh so squibbly,
wobbly bobbly, excellently gobbily—I insist you hear
me sing my dear—just before I eat your ears!
They’re sweeter than sugar bugs in my beer,
indeed I can’t resist, the wonderful taste of that and this,
why if you were Dumbo, I’d be shaking at the knees,
Abe Lincoln I’d give you more than a squeeze,
Prince Charles has nothing to compare to these—
I just gotta start to tease at these
sweet tasty little ears—STAND BACK!

Hot Red Pepper Jelly!

Oh Dad it is so good to hear from you
when you are far from home
even though you are in the car
and calling on your phone
yes Dad I can hear you loud and clear
your words go in and out each ear,
no Dad we did not drink your beer!
And no! we didn’t eat your hot red pepper jelly!

We helped ourselves to pork rinds, chips and guacamole.
We toasted dogs, roasted cats, mashed pertaters oh so slowly.
We even unwrapped some very odd cheese—
which we tossed ’cause it was oh so smelly—
what’s that Dad, I can’t hear you ’cause you’re all yelly!
Dad we promise, we didn’t touch your hot red pepper jelly!

We spread a sarong with an ointment we made
from ammonia, machine oil and lemonade.
We baked canned tomatoes in the oven quite long,
we expect they’ll be done before we finish this song.
Yes, I’ve heard every word you have spoken—
no Dad there isn’t anything we’ve been smokin’—
our conscience is clear, unlike your pay telly,
but honest Dad, we would never touch your
smelly, rotten old, nasty, hot red pepper jelly!

I Love You
(sung to the tune of This Old Man)

I love you, through and through
I love you ’cause you’re true blue
with the sky and the sea
up above and down below
I love you cause that’s all I know

I love you, yes I can,
I love you ’cause you’re my man
with a run and a jump
I will follow you
run and catch you faster than

I love you, cause you’ve got ears
ears that match and ears that hear
a little night time song
that I will sing to you
I love true blue ears that are stuck on you

I love you, now, then, when
love you like a big fat hen,
with a peck, cluck, scratch,
I’ll lay an egg for you
look at all you put me through

I love you, in a canoe
I love you cause you’re true blue
with a paddle and a song
and a wave to make it through
you and I, we’ll make it through

I love you. Yes I do,
now my song is almost through,
close your eyes
snuggle in bed
let sweet dreams come and fill your head

hear my voice, very low,
I will tell you what I know,
you are mine, I am yours
I love you cause you’re true blue
you and me,
we’ll make it through.

I want meat, I want potato,
I eat steak and kidney pie. I eat
bacon eggs tomato french fries
breakfast noon morning night.
I eat eggs, I eat feathers, I eat
feet, neck, cowl and beak. I eat
anything I can wrap my teeth
around. I am hungry, I am a geek.
I want to eat something that will make me feel better.
I want to feel my gut full and free of hunger
that gnaws, eats and consumes me and never lets go.

I know hunger and I want to be free.
I cannot remember
who I was, only who I am.

I eat steakette, I eat dirt,
I eat pain, I eat truth.
I eat shit, there is no excuse,
I eat misery, and wear it like a shirt.
I want meatballs, I want shrimp,
I want a negligee and someone in it.
I want an ending. I want a brand new start.
I want a car that won’t fall apart.

I have every food I could want
within reach & I am not hungry.
Strawberries, grapes, apples, pears,
scallops, beef, chicken, custard,
cheese— smelly and plain—condiments,
sweet, salty & sour, eggs, milk, yogurt—
I am not hungry.

I dream of food. Here it is. I do not want it.
Savouries. Here they are, savour them.
Please all I want is bread. We can give you
baguettes, challah, pita and naan,
chapatis, burritos, brioche, bruschetta.

Please, I beg you—bread, I need
bread—how will anyone love me?

I need to stuff my mouth until I cannot breathe.
I need to stop salivating, there is an ache in my gut
that eats me alive. I have heard it said to settle
your stomach all you need is a little bread.
I am so hungry and I cannot eat.
I know all I need is a little bread.

Wind shakes the foundation from cellar to roof,
blows out every window, hammers walls until
nails pop loose, floods erupt from every toilet—
the wind never ceases. Its howl fills every room
with white noise. You discover it comes from
within the house and its source is a moth trapped
in a candle bell; flame lit, its wings beat against
an invisible barrier that will not let it escape; candle
spires & the moth beats its wings against the glass;
storm surges, wind bellows, there is no escape.
The tornado that issues tears down the house sys
tematically. Flame only trembles, the moth prostrates
itself against a transparent barrier that cannot be seen.

That it can only feel, willing to do anything to be free.

I am in a dream
and the dream is life
I am surrounded by water

I am in a dream
floating on a river
whose sides I cannot touch

floating on the river
paper boats with candles
flicker as they travel

I am but a candle
surrounded by paper
floating on the water

I am but a ripple
floating on the water
golden flicker, now shadow

I flow with the water
brush all as I pass, gone
as if I never had been there

another ripple, not the same
now appears, on the water
where once I wrote, when

I was called the river




surrounded by water
I float on the river
whose shores I cannot reach

I float on the river
a paper boat that cradles a candle
I flicker upon the surface

only a ripple. I pass
across the face of the water
a golden tremble, bright, shadow

ripples appear, repeat, fade
never the same, soon erased
the glare of candle light drifts a script

upon the water, letters
for me to read, I harken
to the river & its deep water

(These poems mark the beginning of the third chapter of Deep Water—Transplant. Arlen has relapsed for a second time and the only possible cure is a bone marrow transplant.)

I am at my dreams, avoiding the fights,
the raucous crowd, the canvas ring spotlight,
knocking out the sights, trying to pretend,
I don’t need to wrestle with the angel again.

Exhausted, I am flung aside, a doll whose sand leaks out.
Diseased, I am burning, limp, thirsty in your grip.
Afraid, I cannot meet your eyes, your stare, your mirror face.

I cannot depend on my wish to attend
I cannot make amends for the messages I send

I am wasted with the futility of effort
I want to say some simple words, say my name, say it.
My lips and tongue move imperceptibly. Immeasurably
yours move without word, and a noiseless roar follows,
that shakes me, bends each bone, caves me hollow, rattles
me and I am past understanding; flight is all that remains.

What reprieve, what repeat awaits me?
What scared mirror flees before me?
What fight, what flight awaits me?
I say, “no more scares.”
I mean no more scars.
I tremble to avoid waking,
the scaffold is shaking.

I search your eyes in vain,
your eyes are stones that see
my eyes sealed in mediocrity.
I fumble to speech, fade in relief,
lost in sawdust, I am not complete

for I am frail and cannot tell—
I want and do not want to wrestle.

(This is the end of the second chapter of Deep WaterRelapse)

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