cait c©llins


the crumbcake lady

she’s there with
her sister in the
waiting room waiting
for radiation treatment
her sister both
look mid 60ish…

her sister tells
me about how
she herself had lung cancer
a few years back
radiation made her
terribly sick and
she had no
appetite for food whatsoever
and she said her sister had
the same as me -
breast cancer…
the sister made it through
the lung cancer ordeal

i felt lucky
radiation didn’t bother
me and my desire for food

the sister receiving
treatment don’t say
a word
sits there
sadness and
despair hovering like
a black raincloud ready
to burst

i saw you looking at
that coffee cake
in the little café
in the lobby
do you want
me to get you one…
sis asks sis
she declines with
a flick of her hand
...take it home for later... sis added
she nods her head no

this waiting room
nobody talks to one another
the faces of
these people
apparently lost
all optimism hope and
the lust for life gone
ahead of time as
they sit there despairingly
waiting for the gust
of death

they call my name
i pop outta the chair
flop my backpack over
my shoulder & say..
dammit i hate
that name…
but that’s the one
i had to
give them

a few chuckled and
i walk back
take my turn

i found out
the crumbcake lady’s
name was ms lolly
ms lolly wasn’t there
the next day but
the following day she
hobbled out
of the changing room with
the blue gown everybody
changes into

i said to her…
hey! you ever get that
crumb cake…?

she looked at me
and glumly said
no and i couldn’t care less
and never said another word
to anybody

i was in and out
i crossed the waiting room
to the changing room
stretched my arms to the ceiling
& exclaimed:
ahhhh now that was a bestest
zap session yet-how i feel
like a new woman!
i go into
the changing room
replace the
blue gown with
my inside out
sweat shirt
when i come out
ms lolly says to me
you sure have a good
outlook on life i
really admire you

i sat next to her
told her i take after
dada then i asked her
how many weeks of
radiation ?

i don’t know after this i go
upstairs and they do something
to my head.. ya know i have it
.. then they called her
name and she got up and went back…

the following week i
brought a slice of crumbcake
for ms lolly but
i never saw her

a few weeks later i overheard
the doctor on the phone at
the nurses receptionists desk
callin for hospice…
                            for ms lolly…


(o.k.) (o.k.)

my dad calls
from florida
at the time
i am stricken with
the flu…

i got the message on
the answering machine…

i call the next day
mommy dearest answers
asks what’s goin on
up this jerseyway
pertaining to
her former friends
sisters /brothers…

i never see them let
alone hear from
any of them…
she goes on for
about an hour
how every one of them
have some kind of
ongoing minor ailment..

it’s been 10 months
since this cancer ordeal-
i’ve made it through and
mommy dearest has
to ask me
how i’m doing

she hands the phone to dad
i ask about his health
he’s alright says
he’ll live to be
150 years old…he’s 78
and we talk about the dogs
the weather and
things in general…
ok dad i just called to let
you know
i’m alright…

i figgered that...he said
...cause we didn’t get
any invites…

invites i ask?
yea to a viewing…


not beyond recognition

both of them
fashion plates
dressed to the nines tens
even if at a grocery store
even on a regular day
even at the gas station
they eat out
at all the high class
every night after
work plus
shop at places like
lord n taylor and
specialty shops
and they belong to
a wide circle
of high class country clubs
and it’s plain
my brother don’t care
much for his own family
on the poorer side of town

my daily style is
sweats or spandex and a t
even at a fancy eatery
even at a poetry reading
even at a doctors visit or
the grocery store

my brother and sis in law are
the ones with the quarter-
of-a-million-$ motor home and
they say i’m they’re fav

i know this is true only
only when i visit them in
florida because
the impression i get is
that nobody is good enough unless
you are good enough

plus it wasn’t some fancy
ladeeDOH restaurant
that they took me to when
they invited me to dinner
[like they do everyone else]
we sat at some
sleezy pizzajoint like
i’d go to and
sweet sis in law ALWAYS speaks
softly tells me
that she now is
in love with poetry…
asks me
to send her
my poetry books…

i sent them off
a few weeks later
i heard
through the family grapevine
and because
family members were
mentioned that
they tossed
my poetry books in
[probably] their
10 thousand dollarfireplace

rarely do i mention
names in
my writing and it’s funny
they recognized


on the radiation table (1)

i call the radiation
crew of 4
the radio(logy) crew
as i go in i say beam me up chics and
i take the blue gown off
climb onto
the narrow table
half naked half titted
place my head into a small
cuplike thing
raise my left arm over my head
and they point that
big monster mechanism to
an exact spot and
they leave the room
locking the 12” (or more) thick
door and
the zappin begins…

a minute or so later they’re back in
re-arrange the contraption to
another position slide
a metal plate into the
front so it
blocks the radiation from
goin to where it
ain’t supposed to go and
they leave again
return and
they do this 5 different times
hey…i ask…
you come in here
point this war machine like
some laser gun
then leave me locked in here by
myself …what’s with that
is this thing dangerous or


on the radiation table (2)

once in a while
dave comes in takes
one of the chic techs
place when
they have off or
if they’re sick or
in his position i’m sure
dave has seen everything
horrible under
the sunbut
this still can be a very
embarrassing situation
layin there with
one boob…with the other side
looking like a Philadelphia
street fight so
the first time
dave came in i said
‘look dave
just imagine
perfect size c’s when
this is all over with …’

that’s all i see
dave said…


on the radiation table (3)

after 5 weeks of radiation
it’s beginning to get
a little monotonous
morning after morning
and the area is
lookin red raw and
burnt and
to the techs and
the docs it
looks good…
i say yea like a
traffic accident
there’s this remote that
controls the narrow table
up down forward backward
even to a slight boomerang position
i say to the tech that controls
the remote
say why don’t you take that
flick it to a
spinning position
around and around and around like
a parasol in a swirling windstorm

she looked at me
but she
let me rip….


round 2 - ding

ok so 9 weeks of radiation
has done me in with
tiredness but
the worst is over and
it worked…

so i have an appointment
with the chemo doc
now as far as i know
it’s 6 months of this shit
ain’t so bad if
he keeps me on
xeloda chemo pills and
not the intravenous way
i call them
my lotus pills and
they don’t make
the hair fall out and
i don’t have any major
side effects

he checks out the area
is very pleased
says i’m amazing and
doin good..
i said yea well it’s gone from
a train wreck to
a road kill
he laffs briefly but then
seriously he goes on…
the breast cancer cells
were detected in
the bone at the bottom of
your spine…

my head fell to the
palms of my hands and
i felt like crying but
i didn’t instead i said
listen don’t give me no cutoff
i’d rather not know and
not think about it

there’s no cutoff… he said
this IS controllable but
not curable and
you can live
for years on end -
hundreds of different ways we
can handle this

then he asked if
my back hurt
not until you mentioned i feel pressure
back down there
…i said and
he gave me an oxycodone prescription
a generic of percaset
and he set up an
appointment to
have a portocath embedded for
bone strengthener procedures
every month…intravenously

he looked the area over again..
tells me again how good i’m doin and
on my way out i remarked…
well doc i am
most grateful to where
ya got me so far but
it seems this shit
loves me like
no other man ever


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cait c©llins

--->fART= original photography manipulated into digitalart


books reviews
muse apprentice guild - mini-mag/april 2005
Rockzillaworld-The Americana Poetry Consortium
The Louisiana Review - summer/fall 2001 issue
Logic Alley
W.omen's A.rt R.ecognition M.ovement
absolute arts
featured @
art conspiracy

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