Radiation

Bladder Battle

This one is for the pack of radiation guys
ordinary joes jolted into fancy juggling acts
told by technicians to show up every day
with a full bladder and an empty rectum
for their treatment on that cold metal table
a balancing feat filled with the frustration
of empty at the back and full at the front
sometimes even a contradiction of intent
two things that don’t always go together
and there’s you on the way to the hospital
trying to time the whole operation, to hold
the home front that puts pressure on you
bladder battle you hope you can win until
the radiation blast is done and they tell you
you can go and go you do, your mad dash
to the bathroom, rushing stream of relief
a flush and the regular world yours again.

Tattoo Parlour

It really ain’t. It’s not going to needle
your skin with elaborate ink designs.
It’s not even going to let you choose
your favorite locations—top left shoulder
or edge of right calf. No, this parlour’s
far more practical, pure decoration is out.
It’s got a very specific serious job to do.
And it’s not skin slogans, boasts or pledges.
Your parlour does you up in three tiny dark
dots, one on the side of each hip, the third
on your recent radical prostatectomy scar.
Blackbird landing in a jagged purple field.
A trio just for you, your private markers
little freckles that the machine will line up
to keep you locked in the proper position
while the sun comes out. Maybe not the sun.
More the external radiation beam as it rises
and sets on your pelvis valley. Just call it
the exterminator meeting your old enemy.
A blast for the vermin in the prostate bed.

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