from "Strange City," a manuscript in progress

These poems attempt a chronicle of the year and a half when, in early middle age, my wife and I found ourselves both diagnosed and treated for cancer; my wife first, then me. I was diagnosed on her last day of chemotherapy. Some of these poems were written bedside in the hospital, in a hospital bed myself, in the valleys of chemo treatments, or on the high road of reprieves.

Twelve

Sometimes
At noon
Night falls

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Who knows
The day
Or hour

 

Forty-Nine

What I fear
Is language
Will die

With you
If you do
When

I speak
Already
No one

Understands
A word
I mean

 

Fifty-One

Everything
Given
Goes

Not from
Dust to
Dust but flesh

To flesh
Then flesh
To ash

Now
Or later
Soon

She forgets
She stands
Before us

Receding
Stay reply love
Deny

 

Fifty-Nine

I know
I cause
My body

To bleed
For you
As if

To suffer
For you
Just as

They say
He bled
For us

 

One Hundred and Twenty-Three

She called me
In from
The storm

Sat with me
In her
Gold cage

She’d been
Where I would be
Going

She told me
She envied
My youth

She confided
She’d been healed
By Christ

I stumbled
Back into
The storm

Shivering
But not from
The cold

Sometimes/ At noon/ Night falls

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