Entry - MAG Poetry Prize 2011

Cancer Treatment

by Michael Dooley

Norman Mailer had a theory
The disease results from internal contradictions

I am inflamed from core to crust
There is a strong smell of burnt toast across the morning air
Confused, I shuffle through medical cards in my wallet
Presenting them one by one to the patient medical technician
I forget my doctor’s name

I would that my cure be
A harmonizing, a float on
Pink clouds of phosphorescent dust
Not the butchery of wounds, radiation burns
Twin humiliations of
Impotence and incontinence

Perhaps I should just let it lurk
Its insistent presence
A reassurance against the need to
Occasionally consider suicide

Across the floor
A lovely Filipina nurse
Turns her back and pulls up the waist
Of her bright green scrubs
Exposing an inch of her slim soft brown middle

I want to fly across the room to her

Added: 05.04.2011

Judges' comments on this poem


Moving and meaningful. Llove the end, where a loving passion overcomes thoughts of disease. Shouldn't second line read 'That disease..etc


I thought the contradictions of 'the cure' being a 'butchery' instead of 'a harmonising', was cleverly written. Last part brings poem to lif