Archives for posts with tag: cancer

The angel arrives in the middle of the night dressed for action
looks at me and says, “How about it, right here—on the floor?”
Yanks me by the neck and pitches me on the carpet. His breath is sweet
as he attempts a leer, “You like that?” he says, and I say, “fine so far.”

“L’il scrapper, hunh … .” He lifts me into the air, propels me
around the ceiling faster and faster, “C’mon, c’mon, c’mon” he shouts,
drops me, lands, fists pummeling the air, “C’mon, put up your dukes,
c’mon I dast ya … cross that line, I double dast ya,” and draws a line
with his sandalled foot across the carpet. I grin, dazzled, cocksure, and step
into a fist of thunder and lightning, a right cross that billows me into daybreak.
“Maybe we should try rasslin’ the next time,” I hear a whisper from up ahead.

He is an alley cat yowling and spitting, puffed up, crouched on all fours,
back arched, wings bristling, “C’mon let’s do it,” he spits and launches at me,
twenty claws straight at my eyes; I cower beneath the covers moaning. Great rents
appear, the cloth shreds before me, I am naked. Claws pass through me, eternal
machine slices northern winds howl through an empty house closed for winter.
I am dying, astonished, my wounds bleeding before me. He comes and lies beside me,
grooms himself, rolls around on the floor, oblivious to my twitches and silent pleas.
He purrs and grabs me, my head in his jaws, cleans me, licking each ear,
combing my hair until I look like Alfafa; closes each wound with a melodious growl.

She comes to me and says, “Well you’re no good for fighting, you’re no good
for wrasslin’, I hope you’re good for something,” and slides in bed
beside me, her cool skin against mine, heart beating against my chest like a train pulling
out of the station. I hold her head in my hands, scan her face to find the answer
I am looking for … awake, strain for the kiss that promises heaven,
listen to a whisper that echoes:

“If you want to be a fighter, then you have to be a lover, ’cause a fighter
is only as good as he loves. Look me up when you’re ready.”

and so the love is absorbed, taken at end of each day
poured into the sea, melted into the air, disappeared when
the door opened, it just came to an end—we thought
there was more, but it was gone before we knew it

it was a shock at first, we barely recognized our
selves, but then we became used to it and the next thing
we knew we were someone different, we were entirely
comfortable with, it’s not a change, it’s an adjustment

try to understand, it’s not the end of the world, we could
have postponed it but there was no reason to, we understand
completely your feelings about this, but it just doesn’t matter
we have to deal with facts, the true ones, if your fate is to be

in your hands, as it was in the beginning, then highwire it
as you once could, smile, act like the tightrope never ends

find a shore
of an ancient stream
extinct roar
fossilized echoes resound
I want you to consider
the echo of
the moon in monsoon

cross the car window, the crackling of glass
upon asphalt explodes and you sleep like a baby
crossing the puddle I look at myself from below wondering if I can catch
a smile or some moon launch that really touched down,
you riding shotgun just a babe in a cloud

if you listen to voices that drift on the wind, you will hear them scream
drifting styrofoam puffs skitter across this high noon road
the moaning sound is a fox, “The wild is loose in our neighbourhood.”
a man driving by stops just long enough to tell me.

standing on the sidewalk, looking up
from the sidewalk across from the hospital
it is a bright day and the windows glare
or are ink black in the shade
I can make out a little child
standing at a window
high above the sidewalk
I wave but he doesn’t notice
the man beside the child does
and waves back
I wonder how long they have been there
watching traffic, the flux of light upon skyscraped vistas
whether they understand the irony of me looking at them
I who just left a room like theirs, child standing
in the window staring at the city, our faces reflected
back at us like fish in an aquarium, mouthing against
the glass, wondering what it is like to breathe the air
out there, the great ocean of air

The intimacy of agony is located
between stares and stifled tremblings,
thumb pressed against suddenly sensitive
bottom lip that precedes the uncontrollable flood.
The landscape formed between you and me to explain
the alluvial plain that rises before our eyes,
we give to each other in wordless contract
made, granted, and paid in an instant.
Kind release from stares of resentment,
anger you would feel such agony in front of me,
the crushing of the heart as if it were a useless
potato, wet and moldy, soft, that tastes like shit;
we feebly offer this as if it were a present, a jewel
of rare proportion; we, the afflicted, offer it as a token
of love and affection; we, the hopeless, bear this broken
heart before us like a life preserver that failed us,
now a lens beneath water to clarify and resolve
last tremors of continents parting from each other,
new seas and oceans filling the chasm, the canyon;
the inevitable brought so tangibly to scrutiny;

only the intimate can admit their suffering.

To see me, I am small and bound
by plastic cords to a machine
I need to survive.

To see me I am caught and bound
by a terrible and inexorable fate.
I am a victim.

Yet to see me in the spirit world
I am too bright and wondrous
to linger upon.

I burn in the dark to light your path,
to be a beacon in your night when
you are alone.

Let me soothe you and comfort you,
make you marvel such beauty is made
from heartache and sorrow.

You want the opportunity this presents?

I find myself in the words I love to scrawl,
crayon cross your computer screen,
squeegee tribe run riot.
I love my songs, my sons love to sing,
song runs in our family, a deep root that
nourishes me, a root I felt tapped out,
dried and lost beneath the weight of the tree.
I need something from that metaphor.
I fell not though pride, not through fear,
not through treachery, but all of the above;
I fell through misery and anaesthesia;
I fell through the cracks and between chairs;
I fell through the end of my fingers ‘til there was no feeling.

I strove to push more words around on the screen, lost
the resonance, the rhythm, the heart that lies there waiting
for you to hear it. I lost the sound of the wave in my ear
and I gave into fear and I gave into pain and I gave and I gave
and I gave.
I must explain. The runner seeks her laps.
The hunter must practise his aim. The swimmers
repeat their strokes.
I stopped. I lost the will. I no longer wanted
to sing. The well was dry. I could not hammer.

But hammering is all that matters.
Misery can hammer you. It can seek to
break you, reduce you, try to boil away your
essence and leave none of the flavour—you must hammer
back. Find the sound within you that pounds first tremor
of string meeting bow. Describe the thrill of resonating chambers
tossing back breath in delirious echoes. Define the drum,
pull taut the skin. Now hammer upon it—like rain sings pounding
upon a tin roof, though it threaten to deafen those it shelters.

1st floor, lobby, cafeteria, shops, elevators
2nd floor, O.R., N.I.C.U., I.C.U.
3rd floor, administration
4th floor, research
5th floor, first wards, broken bones, short stay
6th floor, heart patients
7th floor, infectious diseases
8th floor, burns, plastic surgery, urology, oncology, bone marrow transplant/ isolation
In the hospital, never choose the penthouse suite.

I jump on an empty elevator, and hit 8,
pray for the door to close
just let me get past it all,
make it back to the zone
where everyone understands;
back to another world.
But, then, a doctor comes in,
a couple, next a middle-aged woman,
two nurses, researchers with bulging briefcases,
—perhaps pharmaceutical salesmen—
hands reach out and ignite little buttons,
the door is held for an elderly woman, who asks for a floor,
and as the steel slabs slide shut every number is bright.
We stop. We start. Bump up another
level. The car slowly empties. I scan the others.
And I see her. The middle aged woman,
except she isn’t, she is Oriental and her
black hair fooled me. She is a grandmother.

Gently, barely perceptibly. Dabbing at her underlid,
with a twisted knotted tissue. Fifth floor. More room now.
She turns to face the door, so no one can see her. We who ride
past these floors know not to notice. Her shoulders shake.
Her dress is patterned with flowers on a black background.
The scarf about her neck shakes at me, a little boat
tossed upon a hidden sea, a black sea ornately waved
with buds and blossoms. Another floor passes.
How can she empty the horror that suddenly appeared
in her heart, the desperation that clings to a tiny soul?
And how can she catch it all within that one small scrap
of tissue?

Seventh floor. She turns sideways again, confident in my complicity.
She trenches eye-liner, dries her face; snuffles into the ball,
wipes the tip of her nose, dabs her red lipstick; puts on her
armour. She knows I am in armour; she knows I am weeping;
we know we will not show it; we are not the brave.

Striding off the elevator without a glance,
she tosses a crumpled ball into the trash.
I stop to wonder at the rarest of blossoms,
find it floating upon wax paper written
with ketchup, and finished fast food containers;
it bursts with a thousand creases,
faintest hue of pink and jet staining each edge,
I stare at this most beautiful flower
and cannot imagine its cost, the price,
and what remains to be paid.

“I wish that you guys had children so I could kick them in the fucking head or stomp on their testicles so you could feel my pain because that’s the pain I have waking up every day.”


You don’t need to find my child to stomp
on his head and his testicles
you already found him.
He has relapsed with leukemia, and
it has come in the shape of a testicular tumour.

You may not note the connection but I do.
Mike, we live in a river of dreams
and literally, what we wish for comes true.

So many children stomped on to feel our pain.
It’s all right Mike, it’s not just you;
most people in the end, when they are full of rage

and murder and little else, when they have forgotten
their nature, and everyone runs when they approach,
it is then it is natural to strike out at a child—
usually kill them; I applaud your sense of restraint Mike.

Pain is the ultimate arbiter of what it takes to make someone do
whatever you want them to. A little fornication—every man
wants that—right, Mike? A little bit of sympathy with your pain—
when no one seem to get it—when your only sense of self
is inexpressible and you are a prisoner of terror and there is no
other way to sign to the world—in any other way.

I need to let you know you found him Mike,
you found my son, stomped him hard—and now—
I understand
your pain.

I get back
end of my shift
put Jarret to bed
get my tasks in order
check phone messages
wash the dishes
do the laundry
prep the next day
that’s what partners do
when one is never home

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