Laetrile is Jesus
crushed in an apricot pit.
Belief is what activates it.
Coffee enemas are what the rich deserve,
cramped and moaning
at the end of their line.
"Dear God in hell," they cry out,
"tell us what to do."
As though the dying
don't know everything
Limousined over the pimped border,
through nightsweats of switchblades and firecrackers illuminating
cripples on casters
selling obscene piggy banks--
or would senor prefer a virgin
or a dashboard saint
bobbing its head?--
they come from America, our patients,
to regard with disdain
the miracle radiance
which is not exactly
complete remission in four weeks,
at $12,000 a throw.
They come begging us for a change.
With their first-world cancers.
With regret sprouting eyes
in the dampness of their bodies: pain as pain: I smoked, I drank
manhattans, two before supper
for thirty-six years,
but all I really wanted was quiet love in the evenings
and a baseball game on the radio.
They are not lambs,
but captains of industry tied
to colostomy pocketbooks
telling chemo nightmare losses.
American doctors like to wash their hands.
They do it all the time.
But we are a town
trafficking hope, we're lousy with it,
what falls on either side of the rank,
Life's cheapest labor
isn't lost on us.
Here is something milled
from the glands of spring lambs in drink.
Here is someone gulled
what a shunt to the heart
which should do very nicely
for the enzyme drip.
A swipe of the credit card--what did you say
your expiration date was?
Death has many ways
of taking us
for everything we've got.
Didn't you know that?
A cell is a mad situation.
A sidelong glance in a feathered god's left eye.
An ancient nation
Fluid on the pleural heart,
lungs leaking filthy honey, they come to us
on their knees, our patients,
with their tax-sheltered annuities
cashed out. Damn the penalties, por favor.
They come sweating like wetbacks
to the old world,
where we have been waiting all our lives
for someone to call us doctor.