Relativity ~ prose poem


Out of winter’s cold and into the hospital, how could there be anything but warmth? Still, a greater chill comes over me, and my breath is sucked out of me as I pause at the door to the corridor. Only nine, maybe ten, this girl before me, tucked into a wheelchair with a blanket, her head wrapped so that no hair is visible. Is there any?

My warning to brace for the cold as I hold the door open is met with her mother’s wan smile, but the child’s laughter is a reminder that hardship, sorrow, and joy are relative to each of us. Perspective takes a bow when least expected, but when needed most, and I’m flooded with warmth.

This is my response to Day 1 at, where Maureen asks us to write a prose poem that is about the body and contains “an encounter between two people, some spoken language, and at least one crisp visual image.”

This encounter as I was walking into Roswell Park Cancer Center in Buffalo, NY, was a reminder of why I donated platelets, sometimes up to twenty-four times a year.

Solar Separation ~ haibun

Solar Separation

The sun rises and I embrace the warmth. I tan evenly over the course of the summer, but mindful of the power of those rays on my fair skin I limit my exposure and use sunscreen. Meanwhile, I spend my days making pickups and deliveries for a trucking company. Half of those hours are spent behind the wheel, often with the sun shining into my cab. I give little thought to that sun exposure. After all, there’s no sunburn. In fact, there’s no irritation, at all.

In my fifties, I learn the error in that assumption. I have some precancerous cells on the left side of my face frozen for removal. Two separate times, I have cancerous growths removed from my upper chest and shoulder. They can appear anywhere, even areas that get less exposure. The left side of my body seems to be the most affected, that which would have received the most sun exposure through the driver’s side window.

Dry patches on my face, primarily on the left side, are misdiagnosed by a dermatologist as a form of psoriasis, but they are correctly diagnosed as precancerous when I visit a cancer center for skin screening after moving to Missouri. Daily application of Efudex cream over several weeks gives me a face fit for a Star Trek alien when all of the precancerous areas are exposed, until the dead skin sloughs off and my face returns to normal.

That was six years ago, and there has been no recurrence. Summer has arrived, but my days in the sun are a thing of the past.

sun high overhead
shortest shadows of the year
days now grow shorter

This haibun is my response to Haibun Monday 6-21-21: Solstice I,
the prompt from Frank Tassone at dVerse ~ Poets Pub.

Solar Separation

mid-treatment for precancerous skin damage

Waiting, Watching

Waiting, Watching

Bodies mill
Attitudes outwardly positive

Waiting, WatchingSome here for screenings
Others, follow-ups
Some healthy
Others, not

My past cell excisions
a minor inconvenience,
by comparison
It’s just an annual check

Perspective delivered
by milling bodies

Watching while waiting – and thankful my situation is better than many.   All clear for another year.    My  skin check at the cancer center was today – an annual ritual since I retired to find out I needed squamous cells removed from my shoulder/upper chest a couple of times.  Never melanoma, thankfully, but I’ve also had pre-cancerous lesions frozen with liquid nitrogen more times than I’d like to remember (like being stabbed in the face with needles) – almost always on the left side (driving a truck – left side sun exposure – will do that to you).



On May 3rd, Pure Haiku selected one of three haiku I had submitted for the theme “Cancer.” All three poems are shown below. The first and third could be interpreted as being about either the disease or a crab (I was thinking off a hermit crab inside a shell), while the second is about the constellation Cancer. The first haiku is the one that appeared at Pure Haiku.



never really small
hiding within the shadows
ravenous with claws

pale beside Leo
dimmed by might of Heracles
shadowed by the twins

hidden in the dark
consuming all from within
clawed and dangerous

Image source: Wikipedia