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Ich bin Allein

'Cancer is a rare and still scandalous subject for poetry; and it seems unimaginable to aestheticize the disease.'

Susan Sontag, Illness as Metaphor

It is in every part.

Nothing can be cut off or out.

A steady suddenness.

It isn't Keats

or randomness.

It is this body

nurturing its own determined death.

I will find out how much pain is in this body

and I will not behave myself.

It isn't fit for poetry

but since

poets create their own mythology

there is no choice.

My friends have all gone home.

I'm in the dark half-light. I am alone.

The Shortlist

There is so much uncertainty in this.

Not only do my cells break all the rules -

they leave me scratching for an epitaph.

I've made a shortlist out of pain and death.

In hospital there was a man across

the corridor who had the same disease.

Because his blood had shifted to acute

I had a view of what I would become.

He lived his days and nights at sea in bed

and though he was unconscious, he could groan.

The words he knew by heart were pain and death.

That's where my shortlist had its origins.

The pain will make my life a simple thing,

and death will take the things I didn't own.