April 2022 POEM 21 Deserters


At two or so it was pneumonia, then

tonsils wanted out. Let them go, I said.


Next, it was the eyes, at fourteen, when

the blackboard in class seemed too far away.


At 26, the cholesterol played games, blood

pressure too, pills for this, pills for that.


They all gave me a break for a long time after that.

Til arthritis set in, then C. Difficile wanted my colon.


Yeah, goodbye to that! Then the kidneys, sly suckers, those.

A slow rot, fourteen years to finally give up on me. Not satisfied,


they want to take more. Aortic valve’s complaining, heart

sending loud murmurs to protest all the work she has to do.


All the rats slinking down the gangplank, and me,

the body, flailing in deep waters.

Carol A. Stephen

April 30, 2022

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