Here’s a new poem that was published this month in Hospital Drive, the literary and humanities journal of the Virginia School of Medicine.


The hard light of day goes soft and long
as the sun goes from Wichita, west
below the curve of the earth, and other
lights, few and tentative at first, not stars
but starlike, appear amongst the trees
of the shelter belt. And as the first true stars
come out the lights, the living lights, become bolder,
venturing out onto the verge of prairie
fronting the highway, and others appear,
as if coalescing from the thick air.

It’s been many years since I last saw these brave
luminous lovers that filled summer evenings, years since I left
the soft breathing hills of Pennsylvania for the sun-washed bones
and peaks of Colorado.

They stake everything on this night, these small creatures,
and my heart goes out to them, already sensing the stirring of the bats,
swift and deadly amongst the trees. I think our world is no less fragile
than theirs, and we are just as foolish as they to venture forth
into the red reach of life.

But if we choose not this boldness, never to venture forth,
but to remain always hidden, have we lived at all?
Come with me. I want to show you this night, force your door,
kick out the jams, throw open all the windows and lead you out
into this June field so that you will see all of this brave dance,
this so short, impossible beautiful life.


A Few Short Poems

Here a few short chemo poems. So many cancer poems are on the grim side, so I thought I’d send out some on the lighter side of cancer.

A Few Thoughts At 2AM While High on Steroids
The sacred and the profane

When I go to church I think of sex.
Making love, I cry out to God.

I hope He has a sense of humor.

A few good things about having cancer:

I’ve stopped worrying if I’ll have enough money for my old age

I no longer worry about losing my mind to Alzheimer’s

I have an excuse for afternoon naps

I go in the hospital and lose 20 pounds. Later,
when my appetite comes back, I can eat like a horse without any guilt.

The difference between being young and being old

At 25 I’d think nothing of hitchhiking halfway across the country with just a toothbrush and bedroll.

At 62 it takes half a day to pack for a trip across the state and the car is full.

The drugs do strange things to your brain,
make you fuzzy, foggy and plain.
You might find yourself
brushing your teeth
with the toothbrush reserved
for the dog.

Before the chemo drugs
kicked in, I complained
that the portions
from the hospital’s food service
were too small.
Now, after 30 hours
on the IV drip,
I wonder why,
when I order so little,
they send so much.

After 96 straight hours of chemo
no appetite
soon I’ll be nothing
but a pile of bones
in jeans and a jersey,
a few bits of leathery skin and noxious gases.
One morning a week
I take dexamethasone,
a steroid that keeps me flying
high all day, a roaring lion.

Wide awake at 2 AM
I mop the floors.

I’m an optimist.
Things are never so bad
that they can’t get worse.
So stop complaining
and enjoy the moment.