The Color of Cancer

For this the beginning of Breast Cancer Awareness month, we the stage four terminally ill are allotted one whole day, October 13th. I was diagnosed de novo (from the beginning), as my genetics, dense breasts, and missed diagnoses led me to my prison cell on death row on March 25th, 2015 at 4:30 am. I remember that moment like a mother remembers the time she gave birth to her child. And the moment we’re born our life begins ticking away – life is terminal. Yet I know what it feels like to know I’m going to die and from what. It’s no abstraction like it is to someone who has said to me, “well, we’re all going to die someday.”

You’re right. But the truth is you can make long-term plans, can envision your future, can see a purpose to your life. I’m jealous of you. Don’t talk to me about your unhappiness over your wrinkles or getting old or having a breast reduction. I don’t want to hear about it – be happy with your beauty. Beauty lies inside all of us. Accept the joys of aging with grace, just as I’ve accepted my death sentence. I may have a week or a year or seven. Who knows. But don’t steal my #hope. Don’t take away #love. Don’t leave me in #isolation. Look deeply into my eyes, where beyond how good I look you’ll really see my #pain.

So in honor of this “pinktober” I leave you with my poetry. My writing defines me now as does my stage four cancer. I hope it’s a poem that stays with you because I’ve laid it out without much metaphor to hide what’s inside and hurts with pain so deep it’s beyond the soul. Peace peace, beloved body heal thyself I pray each night… as a dear woman I knew would say while holding my tear soaked face. She dedicate her life to healing those with terminal cancer and we lost her two years ago – she’s with the other angels who love us along with those we’ve lost. And one more is one too many.

My ugly secrets hide beneath my thin skin. Am I disdainful, dreadful? I must die from my sins.

Infinitely fighting in my lonely final tour, I miss the cut by a late stage four.

A survivor staring into the eyes of the dead, guilty for it’s them and not me instead.

Now home I’m stitched together a drain in my gut, my heart beats in inside the death of a thousand cuts.

Side by side in an endless parade, seeing you lockstep the line shorter each day.

Fading away in the testbeds of science, fitted with armor in a dangerous alliance.

Open up our uniforms – we’re memorialized by pink scars that magic potions materialize.

I return home to live like a bird in a cage, with an open door I won’t fly…too afraid.

Try to coax my mind from this prison by tying pink ribbons. Those around my trunks – drawn scars from incisions.

Please just turn tearfully away from my door. It’s your fear of emptiness, leaving burnt offerings a taste I deplore .

I found a card you’d attached to the devils food cake. The note simply said: “with love, please keep the plate.”

In the suburban foliage I am incinerated, by the needle of agent orange my body’s obliterated.

With unsteady eyes I scan the papers for new a strategic position. Yet hiring the dying requires expensive supervision.

I find work as a suicide bomber and spend my days toiling in my pajamas.

I want to wear my cancer on my head, and I turn up my collar, so you won’t notice the scars I wear medals of honor.

My arms decorated by kisses of needles and iris colored bruises that came with my freedom.

Yet I cover myself in an empresses’ new clothes, embroidered with test results and dyed the color of roses.

I’m too ugly for a bouquet of flowers that I’m too pretty to receive in the 11th hour.

And ‘neath all this painted on beauty for which you judge me: Looking too good you begrudge instead what you can see.

My lies hide inside tunnels, only discovered in pink undertones, which light up and contrast with my beautiful bones.

Your eyes downcast rolling inside your shaking head in disbelief, stealing the last of my pride like a thief.

To you I’m just another junkie begging for a day without rain, without any pills that ease my pain.

You find me anonymously in an infusion chair , sitting and sweating and praying you only stare.

I am the Marine who comes home in a body bag without any glory, no pink procession, no honorable discharge, no war stories.

How you turn and march away, goose-stepping in formation waving goodbye to my face with your dollar donation.

I bravely smile at you searching blindly for another word for death as you back away, guilty.

Looking down my rifle’s sight, I find myself in the mirror, knowing I may not find tomorrow.

Don’t wonder where I’ve gone and don’t answer my cries, instead live on in my legacy and say, “goodbye.”

Losing My Words

Renting this space, a greedy silence hangs a picture’s worth of words

Everyone could see that

Thousands thousands

swallowed whole by memory’s avarice.

Wishing wells charge a nickel for spitting change at our feet.

Copper coins disguising restless dreams for your thoughtlessness.

Ascending into the ravenous night

It’s darker still craving the whispering of sleep

Chattering then erased by the hands of desert heat

and devouring each frame by the sun’s first light.

Expensive gifts in extending hands

the size of a Harem’s ego. I can hear someone in the receiver

who’s listening in and plagiarizing quotes.

Hiding far away in a bustling bazaar

Where running and tripping into stalls and onto vendors

indicate a thief tried and given a sentence.

Reading between the lines

I only want what’s mine.

Leaping over puddles of words, dreaming I’m

a pink dancer whirling above

A hundred piece band playing

paragraphs behind that bow tied man, accenting notes and striking up chords.

In a pit they pluck, strike, beat, bow, blow, then

Towards the audience men stand and bend like commas

At the waist, ladies genuflect.

Holding onto their middle class accents audience exclaiming brilliance – encore.

Long and short vowels cover their heads like hats.

Musical words left behind all the birds

As they fly over a zoo of prepositions.

Phrases dangled from around the neck

Of a depressed lexicographer.

His tears streaking down his white powdered

Face. Why so sad wordsmith? He looked up

And sighed. Oh my dear what’s happened to my canon?

To our language? It’s all but died – tears streaming into a run-on life’s sentence.

Sitting atop the bridge of his nose helping him ny gathering any

Remaining portmanteaus.

Trying to rescue each noun and verb from

The grated gateway to the sewers below, too late to save them

From washing away- forgetting all the prepositions.

I haven’t a clue which path to take, from where, in or on whom, towards what end?

Explaining forever – masked, patiently you listened

superiorly, knowingly. Yet if I knew the definitions of ”milk”

And ”salt” is that all I’d add to the conversation?

Then three letters, frozen into a word, not steaming out of the kettle nor washing me clean of any guilt.

Still and quietly hanging inside the blackest cave I can recall stalagmites and stalactites and which hang and which protrude.

If I misunderstood you correctly, earthly teeth can be very dangerous,

Yet losing my directives for heavens sake, my pronouns – I got it all wrong.

For she, he, them

Or we and us, yet neither him nor her,

Could spend days waiting for anyone

not to remember.

Image from cafe press – please support the artist here,1603297489

Magic Love

Love, one magic number counts four letters of chance and change, positive to negative on your life line a test handed in and then passed and rearranged.

Love, a perfect prism’s reign of color – incarnadine and rosy – lies like a white rabbit’s eyes they follow you. Upstairs, a curtain’s drawn open to a magician who hides up inside his sleeve dark tricks though at first sight you still watch him closely.

Love, lives in a magic city. A filthy town, where you arrived this afternoon, driving deserted sand hill lined roads, the landscape finally yields to billboards on which you read that in the suburbs no ones home or even sleeping.

Love curls like a lazy house cat. Striped and fat it’s mind wanders to windows sleepy and teased by birds and other moving targets.

Love runs faster than a sports car. Shining, topless, windy hair whips your at your cheek – it wasn’t meant to breakdown when you need the ride the most and leaving you in solitude its engine sounds like goodbye.

Love sails with you upon a magic carpet from far away it stops and awakens you from silken dreams. Burgundy and bubbly flows through you and turns your inside out from smiles to screams of pain.

Love, the story playing in a cool dark theater. The wife died at the end the husband writes, couldn’t it be me not her? Then he wipes his eyes and instead with deep regret, throws out his pen and just asks why?