Cancer and Victimization

Victims or warriors? Can cancer truly create a personality that exudes false positivity? To act evasivly by smiling and saying everything is great when its not truly is an act of self victimization. To whom do we vent our internal state? A support group, good friend, spouce, family member?

God forbid anyone hear those three little words: “I’m sorry but…” and become a member of club cancer after this moment only they will know how we truly feel. Victims of corporate greed. Victims of poisonous cures. Victims of lonliness. Our futures victimized. Those we love victims all
of the pain of loss. We cannot remain as we once were changed forever. Some of us lose friendships and even face divorce in the most difficult time of our lives.

Stress takes on a whole new meaning as it could contribute to the furthering of our disease. If it’s possible to remain calm between scans, tests, years, months…Only those 1:8 know the ravages of this pandemic. And the lack of knowkedge to those of us with dense breasts who it seems haven’t the global right to know our breast density and thus our increased proclivity by 40% over those women without dense tissue.

Imagine being a man with a stage IV diagnosis. I only imagine they cannot bear witness to such a victimization of their gender and masculinity.

We then die as victims of information dissemination or lack thereof. The politics of illness keep us falling one after the other into open graves.

Two poems to leave you with this week on the act of victimizing the “other.” French Feminism dwells on this problem if you reach back about 30 years. Even the existentialists including one who personally changed me through reading her texts, Simone de Beauvoir said:
“I tore myself away from the safe comfort of certainties through my love for truth – and truth rewarded me.” May we all be saved by the truth of our own bodies and rewarded by health not punished by an ultimately wrongful death.

Victim
Dark blue night wings past
Snuffing out the end of day.
If memory serves,
Against curtains of magenta
Birds in paradise
Flew with flame flaring wings
And etched the scene into
Stone. The stripes earned by
Erosion and echoes
Cavernous crayon colors
Outside the river banks
Of eon twisted canyons
How stubbornly they
Remain unchanged yet to us
Markers of the waters trip out west
Sinking lower and lower then by
The end of the poem
A couplet of a sunset
Sinks in
To the sky writers of yesterday.

Let’s go kill this scene off
Of the death list —the so called
Bucket list. Bristling, insisting
Kicking a bucket is isn’t better revenge
Of a life lived well;
A container cannot defend itself;
It stores pictures without words.
Believing in emptiness
We never fill up our containers
And rename our dreams to fit
Infinite, empty, and black as ink.

Victims’ Dream

Pink cheeky girls woke up
Hearing my screams in the dank alleyway.
Just a caterwauling stray, they yawn,
Slipping into their pretty dreams
In between rose covered sheets —
Lining the inside of a restful box.

Curled up like kittens having tea
Painted into black flocked drops
Still life frozen stiff.
Another innocent mother
Wasting her love
Couldn’t know what to do:
Crying deeper than an orphan
With a never ending need
Of a basic meal and the itch unscratched it’s Mottled by parasites.

With her tongue like a steak knife
She clears the fleas she combs
From their fur bare coats.
Near silence hearing their satisfaction Through innocent mews,
Razor claws ripping, scratching, pushing
Her cradle fell away dying
I saw her almost speak
They watch her slowly
Creep back away and off
Like the sound of an old door
Squeaky and shut for the last time.

Finding herself everywhere,
Slashed and scattered she collects herself
From the pavement
Glass and stones
Hearts and bones.

Underneath the safety of a redwood porch.
Food and water sometimes appear
Bowing into the dish and darting
Up for air and reassurance against a trap.
Victims of a crisis or of conscience
Never get relief to drink or food to eat for thought.

In the dark wanting to see the other side
Only instead to stare back into our own faces.
Light of a camera obscured the window from a world view.
My hand saluting from my forehead
Blocking the indoor daylight at sleep from my eyes.
And mamma cat scared herself.

Pressed against my face, yet
Seeing those green eyes in the glass
Instead of me she ran off so fast they didn’t see her
Passing the pink girls who turned in,
Between Egyptian cotton sheets of papyrus,
But the alley cats silenced
And never once let a word out again.

Waiting for her,
But for me instead. Bottle fed and fatted
Unnaturally, all of us may never find a home
And the coats we wear
Are the coats of the pick pocketed and the poor.

All of us victims,
crying for food made from our mother.
But she’s not saving anything,
Not tonight—
The litter stole everything
Including her tongue.

“You look great.”

Walking up to my weatherproof face
Say, “you look great,”
(With the implied italics on the great.)
My invalidly clear skin,
Such wise wild eyes,
Naturally open up wide,
Wow, you look great!“

Could you spare a surprise?
Shuddering at the danger of such a storm
Surging through my veins like an impulse
Holding back the invisible force
As you to recoiled.

Do you recall the dress I wore that pink afternoon?

How I make lemonade from such a sour fruit?
I don’t think
About my v-neck or recall how I flowed by you
Last time we met.
Unlucky chance as
Circumstances,
Uncomfortable yet innocuous. Maybe
A mall or a supermarket?
In an aisle with its Chia seeds, with its quinoa,
With its turmeric or with its masala, or with its free green tea?
Did you try some new found red fruit
Ubiquitous and misspelled as often as the word misspell.
Say it again:

You look so shocked that we must do lunch.
Face red over the menu
Its dishes unpronounceable.
Those one named joints like Spoon or Fork.
Those restaurants where everything on the list you exclaim and pronounce, expertly.

If it came down to the question of my looks,
Would you reply
Without gratitude:
Why thank you
How graciously
Oh, you’re too kind.
Leave for home alone
And cry.

Or ask me
“why do you ask me?”

As though you were the sick one.
Overrun with a malady,
Melodiously, waltzing to
A “thank you” with a sing song voice,
High and staccato
But sad sad
Ever sad.
Rememorys of quotes,
Remember me?
Reaffirming how strong, how beautiful, how positive?
Stop – the compliments overflow in my former cups.
How good do I really Iook?
Is it true or
The way shock looks good on you?
How good does it look not to be sick?
Not to lose?
I want to win the rights
to own my identity.
The right to keep my hair.
“You kept your hair!
How wonderful.“
I look fabulous.
Would you recoil if I retorted
Or chortled,
Out of some joke at the expense of your boundaries?
Your fence affronted
Laughing nervously
At my acerbic wit.
To whit without bullshit.
You commend me for my strength.

And then worse than all the worlds’ compliments:
“I’ll pray for you.”
As god walks away to hit the drugstore
Along the weathered path home
No kneeling at the counter of
Optimal opioids and malcontents.

So, gaze inside every
mirror
Each shop window along your route.
Let the looking glass take you to the other side.
Take a snapshot of yourself inside
After the infusion.
It’s not permitted by punishment
By law.
By transdermal
By transplant
By subcutaneous injections
By contrast
To you
I do look great.

Pet Rich Ore

(Dedicated to chemotherapy)

Steal the scent of aftermath,

Of rivers, ponds, waterfalls, of

Mangled limp leaves, blown

Around. Fog, water’s mystical state

Lifted the ground up by noon

Do the arithmetic:

What’s left outside after a storm?

Rain leaves its distinct message:

More precisely, less understood

Oily ascension from the earth

Reaches to encounter rising

Mountain roads. Projecting

On a green screen we stop

Acting, instead slowly, slippery,

and wet, waiving goodbye to my

Now-relinquished memory.

Mirrors from lighthouses beam

A spot where the words hide.

Vast oceans of gray crevices

Foggy and neglected, recollect

Years before, a pear-green sky

Ripened and began blowing.

Curtains beckoning with arms

Waving to the operatives

Waiting for instructions.

No signs yet.

Finally the storm bursts

Through a bedroom door

Met by an unkept little dog

One that came with her name.

“Petrichor.” The memory

Satisfied finally, for

Here’s the word for the oily scent,

Rising up with a heave to hear

Earth’s sigh of relief

When water rises after it falls

And worms rejoice in its muddled

Grounds. Mud made puddling

Mid afternoon humid

A swampy mystery

Finally rests in its ground.


De Novo Soldier

My ugly secrets hide beneath my thin skin.
Infinitely fighting in my lonely final tour,
Not making the cut for
A battalion of beautiful survivors who stared directly into the eyes of the freshly dead.
Limping home and stitched together, held upright on a single crutch.
Marching in the endless parade
They inch away for you see how far things have come,
bathed in the glow of pink light.
Open their uniforms –
Discover traces of ink from the triage tents
Their tattoos from strange archipelago parlors.
Arriving home one by one
home to their places as plumed birds in cages.
You tie ribbons around trees,
draw a pretty pictures of pity,
Run tearfully from the doorstep leaving offerings of happiness,
Quickly cobbled with gum and string,
with a note to “just keep the dish.”

Yet in the dense tropical foliage,
no one saw the soldiers hiding in my trenches.
With unsteady eyes I scan the papers for new strategic positions,
After training to uncover sleeper cells of suicide bombers.
I want to wear my cancer on my head like a turban, on my chest like scars,
My arms decorated by kisses of needles in iris colored bruises,
In the cover of an empresses’ new clothes embroidered with test results and dyed in thin blood.
I’m too ugly for a bouquet of flowers that I’m too pretty to receive.
Instead, you see all this so called beauty upon which you judge me:
Looking too good for you to see through to my truth.
My lies hide inside tunnels, only discovered by lighting them up with my beautiful bones.
Your eyes downcast rolling inside your shaking head in disbelief.
To you I’m just another junkie begging for a day without rain, without a pill to
Ease my pain, find me anonymously sweating in a red curtained opium den.

I am the Marine who comes home in a body bag without any glory, no pink procession, no honorable discharge.
You turn and march away, goose-stepping in formation waving goodbye to a familiar face in the crowd.
I bravely smile at you, while my raving mind searches for the stolen words I can’t find anymore.
You look down at me through a rifle’s sight, I find myself in the crosshairs.
Pull the trigger as I say goodbye.