Chemo Cycle Blues, Part III

Author: John Smelcer, PhD, CAGS
Last Reviewed: December 20, 2022

Doctors said they wanted to up the dose of my chemo.
“Remember, we must try to kill you to save you,” they said.

The stronger dose shut down my immune system.
I was ogled by every passing germ, bacteria, or virus
the way prostitutes beckon solicitously to sailors
walking past a brothel.

My mouth and tongue got infected.
It was white and swollen.
For days, eating anything was torture.
The pain shot up my ears whenever I chewed,
so I drank those crappy booster drinks instead.

Did I tell you this was all during Thanksgiving?
So much delicious food that hurt me too much to eat a bite of it
except for a slice of homemade pumpkin pie with whipped cream.
(Some things are worth the pain.)


About the author: In the fall of 2022, Dr. John Smelcer was diagnosed with stage 2 B-cell, non-specified, non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a metastatic cancer of the lymphatic system. He is currently undergoing hospitalization cycles of chemo and immuno-therapy. John Smelcer is the author of 60 books, including a dozen books of poetry. His most recent collection is Raven. For a quarter century, he was Poetry Editor at Rosebud Magazine, where he currently serves as Senior Editor Emeritus. From 2016-2020, he was the Inaugural Writer-in-Residence for the Charter for Compassion, the world’s largest compassion movement with over five million members in 45 countries.