Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Dream of the Cancer Cure

Imagine: instead of fighting the tumor
with knives, radiation, chemicals,
we feed it — like summer picnickers who,
tired of swatting the buzzing swarm,
lay out a separate plate of meat
and cheeses for the bees.

While the tumor calmly swells
onto its bedside petri dish of food, nourished
by everything it needs and wants,
you lie in bed — read People, knit a scarf,
chat with your aunt Ezgi on the phone.

Until one day the cancer is no longer in you
at all — but a pulsing mass grown separate
on its tray. That now the surgeon will cut free,
severing veins and arteries that once
bound it to you like a baby. Deliver you of it —
carry it howling and dripping away.



C. Dale said...


This poem affected me in a very profound way. I have printed it out and placed it above my desk at the hospital. Is this new, Peter? Beautiful work.

Peter said...

Thanks, C Dale. Yes, very new.

Radish King said...

Oh god, this is stunning.

gina said...

Wow. Peter, this poem is going to stay with me for good. Amazing.


Suzanne said...

Loved this, loved it. Thank you , Peter.

Radish King said...

And it has bees.

Suzanne said...


Pamela said...

I loved this. I'm not ashamed to say it made me cry.

Anne said...

This poem gets more complex the more I read it. Wonderful.

And "aunt Ezgi" -- I've never heard that name before, but it's perfect!

anders said...

What a great crossover zone it is between medicine and poetry. I think one can see it with WC Williams as well, and also, Whitman when he did his stint as a nurse. And it feels societally necessary because lord knows people need any authentic spiritual vector they can get in an ICU waiting room. It is a great productive zone to be in as a poet. You are fortunate. There is an emotional burden to it too of course. For some reason the last lines of S1 reminded me of the India temples where they have a safe zone for rats -- temple where rats can live and get fed.


Esther's Writing Works said...

Stunning, Peter.
I will post at Cancer Lifeline,

Peter said...

Thanks all for the comments. The poem is still a bit raw, but close I think.

the machinist said...

I keep coming back to read this poem, Peter, and keep on forgetting to tell you how much I like it.

If you don't mind, I'll send it on to Rebecca Wee. I think she'd love it, as well.

gina said...

Peter, Alberto asked me to pass this message along. He's calling for poetry submissions for a blog called Little Emerson.

"'Little Emerson' is on the air. I kindly request—and isn't my tone
proper?—that you take a look at it. It is absolutely demented. Aside
from that I kindly (again) request that you do the meme thing: that
you, should you care to, send a message to three people that may be
interested in this sort of crazy thing, so they can send it to another
three people who may be interested in this sort of thing, and so
forth. I know I'm coming short; this isn't about your favourite ice
cream flavour, but what the hell. I know I'm being redundant, but I am that insecure. Give it a whirl. Participate. See what comes out of it. Nothing will be just as well.

Alberto Romero Bermo"

The address is


And now I have fulfilled my end of it. You are number three. Pass it along.

(p.s. God I love this poem--I come back to visit it)


Peter said...

Hi Woody: Thx. Please feel free, and say hi to Rebecca W. for me; I am so bummed I missed having dinner with you and her and friends at AWP. I loved her reading.

Gina: thx for the message from Alberto (of Sea Camel fame??)

gina said...

Yup, Sea-Camel no less. Looks like a very interesting experiment.

Ivy said...

Wow, Peter. Just... wow.

LKD said...

Oh, Peter, what an incredible poem. God, I wish I could show this to my uncle who died of stomach cancer. What a lovely dream, feeding the cancer instead of having it feed on you. Delvering it like a baby and being delivered from it.

I'm so glad I came here today.

What a helluva poem.

LKD said...

Delvering? Damn, I think I just created a new word. (grin)

Er, that would be delivering...

Peter said...

Thanks Ivy, Laurel.

Sorry to hear about your uncle Laurel. "Delvering!" What a great new word. I LOVE it.

Pearl said...

That's beautifully conceived and beautifully wrought.