C.N.P Poetry 

  • Cathexis Northwest Press

An Ode to Cancer; Second Ode to Cancer

By: M Zaman


An Ode to Cancer


The King Crab casts its spell in one ochre morning.

The sun shines through the roof where the crimson

Bougainvillea crawls up to the eaves, almost to edge.

A plate crumbles under another; an orgy of orogeny,

Ah! My mind floats in the majesty of a mountain range.

In a distant crèche, a child learns his multiplication

Table by mindless rote; isn't it what supposed to be?

A mindless and tangy crab apple.

Glaciers melt, planets die, and even the godly Sun shall

Meet its fiery end; the King Crab of death; or death's end;

Its nebulous claws penetrating every swath of space 

It spies.

Here at this river's edge, a life struggles with its other shadows;

Pathos injected in the greenery of life; hunger insatiate, love's

Most fervent image, a mirage; in the end, death is not the end;

Death is not to be feared; death is fecund for it rises again

In tomorrow's morning.

“Down to their innate molecular core,

cancer cells are hyperactive, survival-endowed,

scrappy, fecund, invective copies of ourselves.”

(Siddhartha Mukherjee)


Second Ode to Cancer

My heart bears no grudges; let the King Crab gnaw at the edges  Of my earthen flesh or torment my flawed imperfectness; let it lay  Its ravenous eggs in the thousands; fear not, for it's me, my own  Doppelganger. “Cancer’s life is a recapitulation of the body’s life, its existence a pathological mirror of ourselves.” (Siddhartha Mukherjee) Mind adrift in vacuous clouds; gossamer threads of life and of death,  And of cancer’s cruel tentacles; O' How much I despise, and yet in the  Obsidian mirror, I see an image of my own,  Deigned and inflected.


A poet and an accidental physician; he lives with his lovely wife on the Raquette River in a quaint college town on the foothills of the majestic Adirondacks, enchantingly irenic with rivulets full of toothsome water, and hills rarely trodden. His poems are published or accepted for publication in the High Shelf Press, the Stardust Review, the Black Horse Review and the Cathexis North West Press. He also writes in his native language Bangla. His most recent publication in Bangla is a translation of the Epic of Gilgamesh. "An earthly man, funny and lambent; a physician extraordinaire; he is dead at age sixty-one. His name is Ajit (one who cannot be conquered); one beautiful-sunny-Kolikata-morning of the year two thousand nineteen, he was conquered by his own rebellious self - Cancer. He lived twenty-one thousand nine hundred and a few more undone days. His ‘voice-under-chemo’ was strained but never withered. Life’s most cherished nectar remains hidden in some ‘yet-to-bloom’ garden; but time is fugacious and fate indeterminate! The aboutness of this poem is about a celebration of my friend; and about cancer - his own doppelganger. He lived twenty-one thousand nine hundred and a few more undone days."

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