Here’s where the cancer will recur—

not in switches flicked in distressed cells

but in half-baked tales and misdialed phones,

shredded checks, business cards stuffed

in back pockets. Call you tomorrow,

you always say. That’ll be the day.

Who loves you? Who would know?

Lighting up your millionth butt,

knocking back that one last shot,

whining at the paperwork, the lack

of wheels, the lack of scratch, one’s

loved one’s cunning divagations.

Something odd is happening,

peculiar to you and slower

than clockwork.

If you could figure how to get that gun

and have the nerve to turn it to your ear

and furthermore the self-respect to cap it

with the squeeze play that raddles the curtains,

you’d have done so by now.

Instead, crap cascades, darkling flesh combusts

in its disintegrating cage, cards are stuffed and

land lines rung, feelers branch in erroneous

directions, triggering a rush on gut,

heart, liver, spleen, and the whisperings

of doctors who palpate you and think,

anyone who looks like this is dead.


Fired from Hallmark for writing meaningful greeting-card verse, has currently published 433 poems in 91 journals in 38 states. Was nominated for a Pushcart prize in 2006, 2013, and 2018. A BOILERMAKER FOR THE LADY and TO IDI AMIN I’M A IDIOT—AND OTHER PALINDROMES have been banned in France, Latvia, and the Orkney Isles. I HATE TO SECOND-GUESS MYSELF, OR DO I? is due out soon. Paul Newman once claimed to have known him for a long time.