And suddenly just like that the appointment we have been dreading the most is here.
It is today.
And we are going back to that hellhole up the street
where they first found the mass
where the tech clicked her tongue
as she clicked the buttons on the computer
outlining and printing up this new life for me.
It’s only been six months since then but here we are
barely able to catch our breath
to clear our heads
to learn how to live this new life
and I’m back on this table
the gel this time smeared over the left breast
not the right,
not the bad one
but the good one
the one that has to be good.
And there they are on the screen
the black spots
looking at me like eyes
and I start to cry
not just cry
like the way the brave cry
until my arms go numb
and the tech
puts down the wand
tells me I need to calm down
that I can’t get upset until
there’s something to get upset about
and I want to tell her that we just finished
that I can’t do this over again
that I’m not this strong
that maybe no one is this strong
but instead it’s just shuddering breaths
and that’s when it hits me
I’m not afraid of cancer.
I’m not even afraid of dying
which is crazy because
it’s all I have been afraid of
on this table
I’m afraid of living like this.
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From the cover of Heavy Petting alone it is clear why women love Gregory Sherl so much: here we begin with a line drawing of a young boy cradling a cat that, while allowing itself to be held, is perhaps waiting to struggle away. It is a moment of terrible vulnerability, of opening one’s self up for love and physical connection that is, by the eyes of the cat soon to escape, terribly fleeting. It is this vulnerable intimacy which perfectly encapsulates what we learn throughout this collection: one is alone for all their love and their need to be loved.
And the loving of Gregory Sherl is a common theme in these poems, frankly and frequently sexual as they are, although often that sexuality is conflated with neurosis and pills, as in "OCD", where before We are both naked in the middle of the kitchen the narrator is found standing in / the middle of the kitchen, naked, my feet puddles / of water. There were no more clean towels, I say. It is a striking moment in the poem, lonely and helpless, that is only slightly disarmed by the resulting encounter on the kitchen floor. And this is a typical moment for the collection, although very often these conflations of sexuality occur in a more comic context.
Poem of the Week
who have experienced
on a large
i tell raif
i think my
might be dead
haven't seen her
& her car hasn't moved
for two weeks.
you would smell it
passing me a plate
of triangular shaped bread
slathered in jam.
Story of the Week
DARLEEN SQUEELED into the empty spot as soon as the gleaming white Mercedes pulled out. "We got lucky," she told Montana. "Even on a Monday night, this lot is killer."
Montana rolled her big blue eyes. "Whatever."
The eleven year old had better things to do, like text her friends. Incessantly, as if she had a tic. The kid hadn't wanted to shop tonight, but Darleen insisted. This was their first Christmas without Paulie and the girls needed to stick together. Darleen's ex had been nasty lately and mediation had hit a cement wall. Montana wasn't aware how dangerously close they were to losing access to Paulie's vast and unreported wealth.
Montana sighed dramatically as she yanked open the door of the Porsche Cayenne and tumbled out. She didn't pause in her texting.
Darlene checked her face in the rearview mirror. The most recent fat transfer had been wildly successful. She loved her new lips. Grabbing her Gucci bag, she hopped out of the front seat.
Her daughter trailed her into the mall, thumbs flashing on her phone keypad.