My Gambling Life
You remember old Marvin, don’t you?
We always saw him down at the casino
working the one-armed bandits. The guy
virtually lived at the place. I swear he slept
under the tables when the doors closed.
Anyway, I bumped into him the other day.
Last place on earth I thought I would find him.
Down at the gym doing laps and push-ups.
What happened to the casino? I asked him.
Don’t go there any more, he replied.
I gave up yanking those bloody slot machines.
They told me I had prostate cancer. It kind of
took over my life. Now my time is filled
with blood tests, diagnosis and prognosis.
Hell, I thought prostate cancer would destroy
my gambling life. Sure I gave up the casino.
But thankfully I never had to kick the old habit.
Gambling and prostate cancer—stop and think
about it—they’re damn near the same thing.
As if to politely dub the location for this event
with a suitable poetic euphemism, she calls it
in her lilt of Scottish accent, the back passage.
She is the nurse to lead me into this process
bed me, get me on one side, ass hanging over
the edge so that the good doc can do his job.
De-sensitizing gel first, then a finger probe
next the metal thumb of transrectal ultrasound
snapshots of a deep organ that truly never dreamt
such an intrusion, maybe it mugs for the camera
over here, look at me, then as if to silence such
ludicrous theatrics, the sharp clips of a biopsy gun
firing its needles for cell samples, eleven in all
to cover all sides of the prostate, bombardment done
probe retrieved, you left to mop up, find your way.
Dab of Kleenex, get dressed, debriefed and you’re
off, gauze pad between your legs like a blood-thirsty
sanitary napkin, go straight home, have a nice day.
One morning in the court of health
the organs were called up to testify.
I’ll go first said the heart, proud
that it was still smoothly pumping.
Me next said the lungs, drawing in
another long successful breath.
My turn said the liver from its seat
keeping the blood clean and healthy.
Over here shouted the kidneys
churning out their golden streams.
Let me into this boasted the brain
its recall multiple, clear and snappy.
From its bench deep inside the body
the prostate spoke not a word.
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