the healing muse

Volume 13, 2013

Oncological Cocktails

B.A. St. Andrews

Looking too young to bar-keep
the technician comes in shaking
a beaker that froths and hisses

like volcanic vodka or martinis
mixed by Mr. Hyde. Artless as an egg
she offers me this cocktail

neat or on the rocks and won’t take
no for an answer.
We do not speak of cancer.

Ninety proof and guaranteed
to knock me sober, this
barium refresher is served always

with a twist. It smells and tastes
like a nuclear waste site
laced with a splash of lye. Trying

to be philosophical as a Greek
and brave as a Roman gladiator
I quaff this pewter sludge

without flinching, without betraying
my mortal fear the fluoroscopy
will show my troops have broken

rank and an army of mutant cells
advances along my exposed flank.
Have I already lost that

battle against aggressors
who sail their warships
like pleasure boats along my

defenseless coast and set up
camps upon my shores? Accepting
that I must join forces with

allies I neither know nor trust,
I lift the proffered cup as Socrates
must have: one eye on the door.

Back to Volume 13, Table of Contents

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