Friday, February 15, 2013


(Copyright © 2013 The Big C and Me)
I read a wonderful poem recently about cancer written by Maryland's poet laureate, Stanley Plumly, in the Los Angeles Times. I am struck by it's lyrical, imaginative and original nature, and inspired to write some poetry of mine own.

But not today. 

Instead, allow me introduce you to...

Mine, I know, started at a distance
five hundred and twenty light-years away
and fell as stardust into my sleeping mouth,
yesterday, at birth, or that time when I was ten
lying on my back looking up at the cluster
called the Beehive or by its other name
in the constellation Cancer,
the Crab, able to move its nebulae projections
backward and forward, side to side,
in the tumor Hippocrates describes as carcinoma,
from karkinos, the analogue, in order to show
what being cancer looks like.
Star, therefore, to start,
like waking on the best day of your life
to feel this living and immortal thing inside you.
You were in love, you were a saint,
you were going to walk the sunlight blessing water,
you were almost word for word forever.
The crown, the throne, the thorn —
now to see the smoke shining in the mirror,
the long half dark of dark down the hallway inside it.
Now to see what wasn't seen before:
the old loved landscape fading from the window,
the druid soul within the dying tree,
the depth of blue coloring the cornflower,
the birthday-ribbon river of a road, 
and the young man who resembles you
opening a door in the half-built house
you helped your father build,

saying, in your voice, come forth.


  1. dear renn,

    thank you for sharing this extraordinary poem. it resonates that feeling we all share, looking back and seeing our life in blissful ignorance never dreaming it could be so shattered when one get's a cancer diagnosis; and the anguished wish that is implied - the wish to once again live the treasured memories of ordinary days. lots of us often think to ourselves, wondering when, unbeknownst to us, those god-awful alien cells took hold and grew into the monsters, when was their destiny fulfilled and assured to wreak havvoc with our minds, bodies and souls. heartbreakingly beautiful..."you were almost, word for word, forever...".

    looking ironic...i was a hospice nurse for 30 years. there was not one, not one scenario i ever encountered that i did not try on for size. now i realize that it was a form of magical thinking to keep what i saw at bay. i thought i knew and believed there was nothing of this earth one could call, "unimaginable". i think that's why lately, i've looked back and felt such a terrible sting of naivety...since both hugh and i have incurable cancers. reading this poem helped me be more at peace, forgive myself. thank you, renn, and thank you stanley plumly.

    love, XOXO

    karen, TC

    1. Karen, your words are so poignant. I especially love your line "the wish to once again live the treasured memories of ordinary days." So interesting that you were a hospice nurse for 30 years and you saw it all and "tried it on for size." And you're right, no amount of magical thinking can shush it away. I'm sorry you and your hubby *both* have incurable cancer, I did not know/realize that. BIG HUGS to you both. xoxo

  2. Wow! Incredible poem Renn, thanks so much for sharing x

  3. thank you dear Renn...for sharing these powerful words!

  4. Oh, Renn

    What a powerful, powerful poem!

    Thank you so much for introducing me to this poet. I need to find more of his work.

    "Now to see what wasn't seen before ..."

    1. I always enjoy your posts, Yvonne... even when you are taking a break! :-)

  5. Wow, Renn! Amazing. Thank you for finding this & sharing it. I'll be reading more of his poetry -- and hoping he is okay.

    1. Kathi- I know, I have been unable to uncover anything at all about his health. If you find out anything, let us know! xo

  6. So moving, Renn - thanks for posting it.

  7. Thank you for posting this poem. It was very moving. I wrote a poem about losing my hair during chemo and it was very cathartic for me. It has also been helpful to other women whom I shared it with. I was wondering if it was ok to post here or if there was another place to post it, if it's ok with you.

    Today was my first time to this blog. Thank you so much for writing it! I'm very impressed and grateful.


    1. Hi Janine!

      I would love to feature your poem on my blog as a guest blog, if you would like that. Please email me:!

      Look forward to hearing from you.


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