Home > Poetry > Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Published: Fri Jul 1 2016
Eva Lundsager, Were now like (detail), 2021, oil on canvas
Online 2016 Aging Gender Illness
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

the sick are taken
for walks around the hospital

fourteen laps is a mile
we make it six

the ones in yellow socks are dying
the ones in gray are dying

last week he was attached
to so many tubes he was
an oldsmobile trailing
wedding cans

today his friend left
room 1634 in a hearse
vanished and we say
he went home

we pass a body bag and i’m convinced
it’s closed because the corpse is hideous

if the body were beautiful in death
we’d lay us out upon pavilions
we’d braid us ashes into our hair

my uncle’s so drugged he hardly remembers
i’m here, the bite of the catheter pulled out,
the unassassinated breath, daydreams of insects

we walk past the painting of a boy
holding a flower and then that same
painting again and again

his wound is a mile long across
sutured with a string his body
will eat as it heals

it’s really something, he says, looking
at the child as if he’d never seen it,

the way the sounds of ecstasy
are the same as the sounds of pain…
put that in a poem,

i nod my head, pretend
i’ve never thought this

that i haven’t had a man
reach inside me to grip
the yardstick of my spine and smile
at the sounds i made

at apogee the moon is 252,088 miles away

the sick walk circuits
retrace the dead’s footsteps
march toward them

The Book of One Hundred Thousand Whys
AGNI 93 Gender Illness Mental Health
Online 2015 Aging Illness Spirituality
Dora Markus
by Eugenio Montale
Translated from the Italian by Millicent Bell
AGNI 51 Aging Gender Home

sam sax is the author of Madness (Penguin, 2017), selected by Terrance Hayes as winner of The National Poetry Series. His second book, Bury It, will be will be published by Wesleyan University Press in 2018. He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Michener Center, where he served as editor-in-chief of Bat City Review. He won the 2016 Iowa Review Award and is a two-time Bay Area Grand Slam Champion. His poems are forthcoming in American Poetry ReviewGuernicaPoetry, and elsewhere. (updated 12/2016)

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