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Rick

Cancerous

(x = space)

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Cancerous

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We’ve been five

Soon we will be four

That is the prognosis

Palliation

Hospice

These are discussed

And sought

For him

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Out of order

Since he’s not the oldest

In mere math of life

It could have been me

I’m the one with the machine

To keep me going

But I guess

(today’s not over)

It’s not me

(for now)

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The math doesn’t matter

Not important

Math matters elsewhere

In the dosage

Of his medication

In the number of his place

In the hospital

His apartment number

To which they say

He will not be returning

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It’s not me

It’s him

He is important now

But I have to say

It’s been a problem all along,

Frankly, with me

I don’t know how to lose

A brother

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And has he ever learned

To live with this

I’d say so

A mystery he did resolve

Through work

Through home

Maybe through old movies

He knows so well

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And one day

All shall be all

God bless everyone

Who tries

Who’s trying now

One by one

Who practices with grace,

Each fitness for heaven

That shall be judged

By perfect love intending

Hoping that

Full health to be restored

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God bless everyone

God bless each one

God bless Rick

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C L Couch

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Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

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The Latest

(x = space)

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The Latest

(family things)

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My brother’s in the hospital

I’m not sure what that means

He fell

I know that much

He spent the night outside,

Which I think must mean

There’s trauma

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A body worked too hard

A body with cancer worked too hard

A neighbor saw him in the morning

And called 911

He’s hundreds of miles away

And he’s in the hospital

In downtown Pittsburgh

My sister says the hospital is good

Urban, smart, efficient

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Everyone knows their jobs

And what to do for him

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Now we know

We’re standing by

Something will happen

And we’ll all come in

It doesn’t have to take an ending

He simply needs to be in one place

Or another

For a time

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What contemporary medicine allows

And Medicare affords

A rehab center

For new fractures

While his cancer’s tended

And he

And everyone

Must deal with that

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We’ve been out there

When and where shall we go now?

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I’ve rattled all this off

Because

I don’t know how to be ready

For what’s next

I wish I had resources

Of all kinds

x

Family things

Obviously

Certainly (to push on

the conceit) I don’t mind

If you know

x

If you pray,

Maybe you’ll pray

I believe the power in that

God bless him

And help us all

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C L Couch

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Photo by Marcelo Leal on Unsplash

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Prevarication

(x = space)

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Prevarication

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How do I write about my brother

Again

And be ready one more time?

The doctor gave him time

Then that was it,

The doctor said

. . .

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C L Couch

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Photo by jules a. on Unsplash

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poems about early life

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poems about early life

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around the green S chair

(Rick and me)

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there was an S chair

green, upholstered

with that kind of hard,

bumpy brocade that was

uncomfortable

kept in the basement

and there were other things

as basements tend to have

and around the chair

and through the other things

there was an oval

made that we would run,

my older brother and I,

while the Three Stooges

ran on television

and we ran in opposite directions

to each other, and when

we passed each other

we would whoop in high-pitched

voices like the

Stooges whom we thought

must be having fun

in black and white

as we were

around the green S chair

and everything else

pushed to one or the other

in the basement

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a child’s Sunday night

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everything was difficult

except sometimes on Sunday night

when we were downstairs

after baths or showers

pajamaed, robed

slippers over wrinkly toes

the TV set warmed up

Disney about to start

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the younger ones on Friday night

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on Friday nights

we often would

gather ‘round the kitchen table

with popcorn

and malted, chocolate candy

playing The Game of Life

sometimes Careers

we were taught Rook

the Southern person’s bridge

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we played many games

and were okay

as long as my dad was winning

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I never sang for my father

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my dad took it on himself

to ridicule me

so that he might look bigger

somehow

whatever is in the mind

of the bully

I don’t know if that worked

inside

for him

while inside of me

as you might expect

there was resentment

and it grew

I had to win

and when I did,

I no longer cared

there was next to nothing there

and in the nothing

no relationships

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C L Couch

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I Never Sang for My Father is the name of a play and a film.

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Photo by Amanda Jones on Unsplash

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Rick o’ the Wisp

(x = space)

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Rick o’ the Wisp

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Even so quickly may one catch the plague?

Olivia in Twelfth Night

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Happy Birthday, Master Shakespeare

Squire Shakespeare

William

Will

Will o’ the Wisp

I’m visiting my brother today

He has cancer

I’ll be you knew of cancer

Even called it that

(unlike in a later age consumption for

tuberculosis)

I can’t recall it from a play

Or poem

But then I hardly know them all

And as it is,

I’m tired and not thinking

Did Lear get sick with something?

Lady Macbeth?

Or the thane?

Was there a balm for the queen

In Merry Wives of Windsor?

Did all of us feel better

In the panoply of spirits

That concludes The Tempest?

Or were we simply reminded

Of a world that isn’t ours

Regretting

Or remaining

Chastely distant,

Keeping to our own?

Well, a

Happy birthday to you, anyway

I’m visiting my brother today

He has cancer

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C L Couch

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Photo by Enrique Alarcon on Unsplash

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Ranger Rick

(x = space)

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Ranger Rick

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Last I dreamed about

My brother Rick

And about raccoons

Raccoons probably because

I saw images of red pandas

And understand

That red pandas are not bears

But more like raccoons

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My brother Rick because

We’re talking about

His last months

And hospice

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Raccoon Rick

Wasn’t there a Ranger Rick

And was he, if he, not a raccoon?

Or was the raccoon

A sidekick or an animated

Symbol generally

Like Smokey the Bear?

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Telling us

To live safely

Preventing forest fires

By keeping our own

Fires inside the ring

And dousing them completely,

After

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Safety toward

Cancer, metastasized

Keep everyone comfortable,

I suppose

Deal palliatively

Everyone on all sides

Of the cancer

Fighting, still

As much as they can

Capability

Will

The fight

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C L Couch

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Photo by Michael Payne on Unsplash

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by National Wildlife Federation, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10929789

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Visiting with my Brother in Wintertime

(x = space)

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Visiting with my Brother in Wintertime

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Tired now

Just got reconnected

And can write to you

Am in

The Renaissance City

City of Bridges

City of Iron

City of Steel

Where my brother is

And cancer in the city, too

In him

It seems to be consuming him

Turning him in

Like a folder being folded

Movements happens cruelly

The pain is slow

Tomorrow the severer

Treatment starts

How this will work in him

How it will solve anything

Well, it could

It might

I can only pray it must

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C L Couch

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While skiing down the slopes of Big Sky Montana, I took the chance to slow down and look and capture the incredible beautiful scenery around me. Scenes like this seem to center me, with the stillness of snow settling in.

Photo by Jonathan Knepper on Unsplash

Big Sky Resort Road, Gallatin Gateway, USA

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Cancer Is as Cancer Does

(x = space)

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Cancer Is as Cancer Does

(as we try to do to it)

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I don’t know what to say

I have bad news

My brother’s not well

That is not news

It’s gotten worse

That is

All who have siblings are aware

There is a care

A worry that each day

Goes well for them,

That overall they’re satisfied

And happy

I am the middle of five

There are larger

There are smaller

If you are there, then you may know

We never know our place,

Exactly

When is deference?

When is dominance?

It goes on

We simply have to stumble

Day by day

Tripping over stones of protocol

Loving all the same

x

We are none of us

Young;

He has completed, just

His three score and ten

Though as we know

Statistics up the number and

The optimism

More

How will he live well

With his time?

What time is his?

I ask questions without

Good answers in this

Mortal place and

Bounded time

The news will be compounded soon

With prognosis and

Prescription and

Choices

x

My words are getting thick

Everything is heavy

For a while

Before the legacy

Of sadness

Is poured out enough

For good choices

And actions

Of my own

Say, a prayer

Say a prayer

That’s invitation

With gratitude expressed

Now

While still beforehand,

Which is to say

Thank you

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for Rick

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C L Couch

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Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

Vaccine-Based Immunotherapy from Novel Nanoparticle Systems. Researchers at the Texas Center for Cancer Nanomedicine (TCCN) are creating particle-based vaccines for cancer therapy. The particles carry molecules that stimulate immune cells and cancer antigens (proteins) that direct the immune response.

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