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Art > Poetry

Last update: 11/29/2013

Giving Thanks


Karl Schwartz

Giving Thanks


Trouble can be a bitter companion
Have faith you will find a new place

As mom said: "You have to open your eyes to see:"
The sun and moon that goes around us
The oceans that heave and clean providing fish
The woodlands that are our birthplaces
Our family and friends ... and adversaries who shape us
The Good Science that provides good medicine
Hear the music and dance
Be with warm shelter and fire
Share the smells and tastes of your favorite foods
Wishing you all a satisfying and safe Thanksgiving Day
Karl and Directors of PAL.



By S. P.


I was asked to share this poem to your website. I wrote it in January of this year after I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Diffuse Large B-cell Non-Hodgkinís Lymphoma. The greatest mass was in my chest and I had just been told that it had ďfingersĒ wrapping around my lung and carotid artery. I was in a lot of pain and very scared. Iím 27 years old, 26 at the time they found it.

For in me- that is, in my flesh, dwelleth No-Good-Thing

and it eats in my chest and it screams in my dream

Its fingers spread out to feel and to strangle

and its all about what it can steal and can mangle

I'm afraid of its teeth sitting next to my heart

and its harder to sleep, hearing gnaws in the dark

It chased away time and wants to rob my tomorrow

its wasting my mind with its fear and its sorrow

But I will fight tooth and nail and continue to pray

and the Light will prevail and beat the monster away

For in ME- that is in my heart, dwelleth One Good Thing

and though I'm falling apart, my King reigns supreme.
To life and now

by mlin

to see the queen of 'lymphs'
with her drone of busy bees,
who will pull from the storeroom
of toxins , those tailored
to zap, like lovely sheet lightening,,
the bcell yuks perhaps lurking
in this fluffly shell
And wash it clean like a new born babe

Praise God from whom all blessings flow
including those that are seemingly dark
yet magical mysteries
of this age of science and medicine
and thanks be for the x-perts; the caregivers
and for each of you
and  you
      and you

To life and now!
Marching Orders 
- on fear and the diagnosis of indolent MALT

by AJM


I can imagine you feel you're marching down a dreary road surrounded and watched with pity on both sides by people who don't have cancer (like yourself not so long ago) and you expect with great anxiety to end up at or very near the same destination the procession is headed and you and everyone marching with you desperately wishes not to go there. 

Far ahead (if you can still imagine) you can see the procession dissolving; marchers here and
there are dropping out of line and clustering with marchers who've discovered they're wearing the same uniforms. 

You can also see that some have collapsed as they march or assemble and those watching from the sides who recognize the fallen are grieved and are quick to pull their friends from the ground and deliver them to the end of the procession where the largest group has assembled for the last time. They'll not march again. They're finished. 

While you've been marching you've been in a state of numbed stupor. There's a larger procession marching nearby but for a ridiculous reason it attracts far less attention and it doesn't have the same stigma and sting associated with your procession.

But just now you happened to look to your side and bellowing in the crowd is someone who looked like they raced ahead trying to get your attention. In fact, as it turns out, they've got new marching orders for you, or rather orders that were so insignificant when you started marching, they were forgotten. 

You were supposed to stop marching and assemble with a very small and unusual group way back. You can't be blamed for failing to recognize where you were supposed to stop; you can't remember seeing any signs and signals to stop-- but you have nothing to do now other than break rank and join your group whom you'll soon see are wearing the same uniform as you,
though yours is torn and filthy and theirs, while torn and worn out are at least clean and mended and many are seen to be smiling and happy--something you haven't seen or felt for a long time. Stop and find out why.

 If someone were 
to ask 

by CC 

If someone were to ask
Iíd tell them what I miss the most
It was the way I felt
Before being diagnosed

Itís heaven I thought
My life is so blessed
The wonderful things Iíve
Held tight and caressed

Iím finally complete
I thank God above
For my husband
And girls that I so dearly love

If someone were to ask
itís the way my life
was before
that helps me get through
what my life is today

The reality is I have a disease
Itís not something that was
Supposed to happen to me
I donít say much
But I think a lot
Iíve much to be grateful for,
Cancer or not
 . . .
. . .
Iím different a bit from
Most that I know
Because I live for today
Not tomorrow

If someone were to ask
Iíd tell them I'm scared
but I donít let the
unknown become my
whole existence

Today is my friend
And I treat it as such
Iíve got nothing if I
Canít love and canít touch

Yes, I have lymphoma
Itís a part of me
But so is my spirit and fight
And my faith sets me free

I thank God for the days
That Iíve been given
And always am grateful for more
Iím doing my best at fighting this battle,
And I know in my heart, I will win the war.
Lookiní Good, Actiní Normal --- but Dead

by  D. L.

I wrote this in Jan of 1997 -
after an 8 month course of CHOP.
I had just been told that the treatment failed.  And that I might get into a clinical trial with Bexxar - but probably not because my tumors were too large.  The cab driver on the way home tried to pick me up (as in hustle).
I think these verses expresses the frustration that a lot of us NHLer's feel at the lack of outward signs of our disease.

Lookiní Good, Actiní Normal --- but Dead.

 She did her taxes before she died.
(Nice the estateís not a mess.)
She tied all the loose ends up quite neatly,
Then died in her best summer dress.
To her children, she has left all her dreams,
Spun with golden threads of her hair.
The dreams that had fed her tomorrows;
She left them in their tender care.
If -  looking healthy could make it so,
Sheíd be with us now, here today.
If wanting were important to getting,
Sheíd be watching her grandchildren play.
Instead, she wrote a short summary of her life.
Summed up her cancer in a thousand words or less.
Then she piled all her papers quite neatly,
And died in her best summer dress.

                                                                 D.  L.


By M. S. M.


She stood at the yellow marble counter, tears streaming down her face, the sun deceptively warm and cheery. 

Green, white veined cabbage leaves lay drying on paper towels and she was trying to cut a hole in each torn leaf. She could barely see through her wet clumped eyelashes. She finally put down the scissors and put her hands in her head. She wept. She wept for her babies, who were not ready to wean from her milk and kept nuzzling and sucking at her neck and bare skin. 

She wept for herself and the knowledge that she would never again nurse another child, would never hold a perfect tiny hand and listen to the satisfied moans and grunts of her infant twins. She wept in anger at the injustice and the sadistic humor of it allóthat one of the most precious experiences in her life was ending violently, forcibly, and left her wearing cold cabbage on her breasts.

(She had fought hard not to snap at the cheery, twenty-something-and-never-felt- the-nail-biting-pain-of-a-good-and-blocked-duct community health nurse.

She had been proud of her supply. It had made her feel like she was a woman, that she had a natural capacity to sustain her children, even if they arrived by c-section, would never have made it on their own. 

The chemo would be poison of course. She had been slowly weaning for weeks. But her first course was to be tomorrow and she had stopped completely over the weekend. She was sore and engorged, the pain a constant reminder. She could feel hard tender tracks of wasted milk in her ducts. She was wearing god dammed cabbage leaves.  

ĎJust cut the thing outí she screamed to herself. ĎCut it out and get on with lifeí.  Her eyes fell on the scissors. She picked them up and felt the cold steel in her shaking hands. She was so tired. So tired and she hadnít even started fighting yet. 

She just wanted it out. She wanted to just jam the scissors in and take out the tumor that had started this all, this thing inside of her that had turned their lives upside down and threatened to end everything.  

She gasped and moaned out loud, hobbled by the despair she felt so deep inside her that she felt cavernous, and lifted the scissors to her forehead. The cool hard metal was comforting and solid. A baby stirred. She would make it through this. She would be strong and she would find peace. And she would wear these %%##@ cabbage leaves. She put the scissors back in the drawer and went to exchange the warm, wilted leaves for crisp cold ones.


Commentary on Poetry for a cancer researcher
by KB
Thank you to the poets who's words inspire and sadden and enliven, but mostly make very real the battle.

I came across your website by accident. Scanning the Journal of the American Medical Association's Table of Contents - as always, week after week, I saw a poem by someone named Steele. I rarely look at the poems, but the title intrigued me. I could only read some of it (we can't link to everything, even the internet isn't perfect). Searching for her name I
found your site with the poems, technical information, and so on.

Being immersed every day in technical information, the poems were a break from too much time spent on research, on battles about things we think cause lymphoma (and long lists of other sad consequences). The epidemic among farmers out in the midwest who do their best to grow our food, the aunts and uncles and cousins I've left behind in search of answers, make me wonder daily why I didn't choose something happier as a life's work. But then I come across something like your poems.

They remind me, like an electric shock through my entire being, of how I felt when I was diagnosed with cancer. Life never is the same. So while. I can't write, I can search. While my work seems to the world to be the same as always, it will never be the same. It is now something I am allowed to do. I have the gift of time - for now. My sword has a sharper blade
because in my battle I am fighting to keep my daughter from finding the lump, and my son from the fate of his far away relatives who's hard work earned them a short life.

And while I've always surrounded myself with inspiring quotes from wise and courageous people (good to have on hand when tackling life's seemingly unsolvable puzzles), the words of your poets will now take a unique place among the things that inspire. They have their own power and beauty that can't be matched because of the truths they tell. So up on the wall, with
the other things that keep me going when I'm feeling inadequate or discouraged, will go the words of your poets. They will certainly fuel a few extra hours, days, or weeks of energy, and with luck some determination and optimism that I can pass on to my colleagues and friends in our quest for answers.


an inspired (again) cancer researcher

~ KB
by L.M.



I savor the sweetness of your voice,

Of your breast so soft against mineÖ

The laughter of the sea comes back to haunt me,

Reminding me of how loving you were.

I am in awe of the instant familiar feelings

You bring to me when we touch.

The connection of our souls in a flash

That leaves me blinded;

Blinking away the light,

The Sun reflecting on the water,

Your eyes seeing so deep in my soul.

So often the years pass untouched, unharmed by aging.

I speak to you in the middle of our conversation,

yesterday being five years or more.

I savor it,

I want it, I cherish it.

The mating of our souls, the bonding of our hearts.

The making of our love on the sand in a gentle breeze.

My Spirit forever unbound by the Earth.

Soaring in the Heavens,

Leaping along the Clouds,

Ecstatic among the Stars.

Amazed by the connections I feel in so many,

So many hearts, so many minds,

So many souls I have touched and Have yet to touch.

I savor the goodness in the people I meet, those who have yet to experience the Knowledge:

The suffering of endings and new beginnings.

I weep, but not in horrible pain, not in the pain and fear of

Being abandoned, left alone, sweltering in my own mindís rhetoric.

My tears now are of life and lives lived and unlived.

Songs that have not yet been sung,

The poetry of my soul not yet written.

I weep in joy,

I dance among the stars,

I long for the beauty of the waves of the ocean to return to me.

Pulsing over and over me in ecstatic abandon.

My blood remembering the feel of life;

So sweet it was, just as a childís innocenceÖ



Before the cancer. Before the growth of life unwanted inside me.

Before; before the death of those innocent cells,

No where to go, flushed out by the science of a new generationÖ

I weep now for all my body has endured,

For all the steps it took to begin dieing,

To then come back into life after being so close,

So close to Deathís Gateway.

I saw the Angel of Death so clear, Shrouded in a veil and I believed.

I believed her message of Life and Death,

I believed in the Angelic forces.

And although I did not fear Her, I recognized the implications she brought.

Was I ready for this next journey?

I found in my soul the knowledge of the Angels. And how clear it all became.

I sought Her and She Appeared, The Angel of Life.

And hope, the Angel who could lend me strength to renew.

I spoke with her and prayed as she sat on my Bed.
She brought me a Fairy from the Ocean, Caught in rapture.

She brought me my Soul and the knowledge of Life and Death,

The oh so close fragility of our moorings.

Perched on the wind,

Standing out on the ledge of the Stars and the Heavens.

I meditated with the Fey in my darkest of times and

With Her I found myself comforted.

The Angel of Death never far behind, sought to be soothed in other ways.

For now, She waits, hidden by the cloak of a million time lines and clocks.

Forever ticking yet not clanging on the hour. Not YetÖ

I brought my soul to you to retrieve it.

I asked only that you hold me, make the darkness disappear.

And with you I found solace and sleep like a drug prescribed for the Dieing.

You brought me life and infused my veins with nectar,

Its sweetness overcame the bitterness of all other infusions.

You held me in your arms and I have returned.

Returned to renew all the other sweet times and embraces

That I have sought with a few.

And let me take pleasure in their love for me and my forever enduring love for them.

How few can claim this?

This improbable freedom of choice, Of love I claim only for me.

How the Sun does shine today, How warm the rain,

How complete is the night when Dawn arrives.

How filled I am when we kiss.

How complete the sky is with the Stars.

How the Moon brings me Her light, and finds me in the night.

Stay with me tonight.

Stay and tell me your darkest fears, your Soulís journey.

Wake me in the night to claim your space next to my heart

to hear its beating rhythm like the drums

That play for the living and the dead.

In your own heart is a rhythm not unlike my own.

We beat in sync with Naturesí,

The croaking of the frogs, the tapping of the woodpecker.

How I long to hear the echo of our sighs in the wind.
So far yet so close now that flesh can no longer separate our union.

Soaring timelessly among the living.


It was in a dream I saw you first.

It was when I dreamed of the fairy lights, and flew thru a blue indigo sky.

I Recognized your voice, Saw the light in your eyes,

Recognized the familiar taste on my tongue.


I savored you,

Let the flavor penetrate so deep inside me until my Soul opened with a longing Iíve never known.

It was then the doors opened into my sanctuary,

A place I found in your heart.

I huddled there, So afraid to come out for fear of losing you.

Of losing a high no chocolate could replace.

Savoring the days and nights, the heat and the cold,

The amazing way you take me into other worlds and bring me knowledge of myself.

Basking in your awe of me, letting go in your eyes.


Take me into the wilderness, love me with complete abandon,

Chase me in to the heart of the Forest

Where the trees speak the language of the Fey and the Mystics guide our union.



When I was dieing, I wanted you near me.

I feared the Darkness and the light.

If I were to die today, I want you with me.

I want our song in my ears as I drift into morning.

I want your music, I want those around me now close by.

The comfort of my children,

The prayers of the people Iíve met vibrating,

Lifting me into the Spirit of The Sky.

I sprouted wings tonight

As I huddled into myself.

My back stretched and opened and there they came.

A Gift, Glorious and filled with transparent blue.

I loved Myself in that moment, Loved my body and all it has sustained.

Feeling I have returned to my truest form.

Fluttering and quivering in ecstasy,
A Fairy caught in rapture.

Lyn Miglino

"I miss the poetry in My Soul" was the first poem I wrote after my cancer
diagnosis and treatment. It took a year, in fact, for me to return to my
writing. And as I wrote I realized how much of the inner passion I missed,
how cancer brought me so inward into survival that I'd forgotten what I
loved and what brings me love. My poems this past year have reflected how I
seek to reclaim my life with this new knowledge of Death, and a tentative
life. How the balance of life and death is so difficult to attain and hovers
in the forefront for cancer survivors. "I miss the poetry in my soul" is a
reprise of the search for joy, love and passion in my life.

I am a Non-Hodgkins lymphoma survivor, One yr in remission, all my poems
speak about living with the diagnosis and subsequent treatment; the
suffering of endings and new beginnings, knowledge of this and living with
the past that seeks to have our future redefined.

I miss the poetry in my soul (reprise)

I miss the poetry in my soul.
The wanting, the yearning for a person I used to be.

I miss her smile, her flirting nature.

She grows old yet stays young and in her heart, she weeps.

Crying for the daffodils,

Crying for the way they swayed in the wind or

Carried her laugh across the sea breeze.


I miss the poetry that made me sing,

made me dance,

made me want the sun so hot and deep on my skin.


I stand here in my body so different, so alien yet with familiar traces of the hue,

The Color of my soul.

The Spirit that used to soar now huddled so close to my breast.

An Aura so bright that had the Rainbow singing with jealousy,

Now standing still

Within my heart.


I miss the poetry of our union.

The familiar touch, the sounds of your voice

Begging for more,

Lifting me up

Into the sky with invisible wings.


I miss finding myself in the waves,

The pulse of the Ocean flowing thru my veins.

The Moonlight reflecting my deepest needs and desires on the water.

So late at night,

So starry were the skies.

The Queen of the Heavens exploding above my Head.

The stars shooting, falling for Just us.


I miss the poetry, the impulse to write and write deep.

The poetry trapped in the sing-song voice of my being.

Clouded, so cloudy has the night sky become.

The Sun not as bright today as it was yesterday,

Chance of showersÖ


I find myself singing, out of tune,

In voice I recollect as my own.

The music louder than it has ever been and the need for the next songÖ

Changing stations in desperation.

Meditating on the vibes of a new age, a new time,

A new song to sing with careless abandon.


The poetry of my soul.

Renewed with a faith that life will indeed end.

That love will last forever,

That your kiss will always be on my lips, my cheek, my chest.


That I will forever be inside you,

And beside you.


The poetry resonates inside me

and flows into your veins by sheer will, and the

Copulating pleasure of 

a time in sync with nature.


Seek me in the midnight hour;

a wave across the sky,

A dandelion on the wind,

A laugh across the sea.


It is there the poetry lives and I live.

I live on and on,

And onÖ


Lyn Miglino  6/8/2005


Lyn Miglino

As You Lay Dieing

Iím the healthy one.
The one who seeks brash rewards for a job well done.
Whose outspoken litany infuses turmoil in an otherwise calm and serious discussion.

I come here for recognition, to find a voice in my cancer experience. 
To give it validity and find its meaning.
I watch fellow sufferers, those with the ďreal dealĒ succumb to the illness, leaving loved ones in a mixture of loss and relief.
I watch as their voices fade. And yet I come to remind myself of their meaning.

The otherwise healthy one. Branded as cancer-free. 
Free to live a life with joy and speculation about the future. 
But plan away, they tell me. Youíll be fine. It wonít come back.
How can they be so sure?
Brushing away my anxiety with insurances of Rituxan infusions and three month social calls.

Dear everyone, Hello? Iím living, what happened to the party? 
The one to celebrate my life?
Do we wait until itís all over, until I am one with creation?
What will you say?
She beat cancer, but the bus hit her anyway.

Where to go from here?
Back to the group and watch others succumb, watch others recover and ask why.
Back to the club to share, to witness, and watch;
To laugh and wonder.

Angels by my bedside: An exploration of Living and Spirituality for the Dieing

Yes, the healthy one.
Drowning in my sorrows of whatís left. And whatís gone.
Opiate withdrawals, fear of lumps and pains.

Healthy enough to laugh, healthy enough to sing.
Sleeping in the sunlight, Writing in the nights.

I listen for the sighs on the wind. I listen for your voice calling me. 
Some days I hear you in a whisper, others I feel you in full force next to me, your spirit guiding my union with the Divine.
I wonder why the Angels came to me, why they showed themselves and then left me here.
Am I not worthy of the heavens?
Perhaps I stayed to hear you whisper, sigh deeply next to me.
Feel the wanting of you in body and soul.
I pray for your touch then succumb to sleep after hours of restlessness.
I dream of so many minds collaborating on the will of God, then awake
To the lasting silence of my wonder.
Healthy, bound in body, simply physically existing.

I wonder if you listen. Wonder if you resent my freedom, my status as a walking miracle
And a monument to modern science.
Weíve defied the heavens, laughed in the face of mortality and witnessed a new age of treason.
As you lay dieing, do you wish for my life, lasting spirit, hope for the morrows and the children to never grow old?
Do we wish to play again, sees what no one else has seen, find the mystery of the deep and the answer to the ultimate question?

Donít panic, the hitcher hikerís guide said.
Never give up the ship.
Drowning we are in our own sorrows beneath it all.

And what can we give to life?

I say, Iím the healthy one only by comparison. 
Am I the lucky one, one of the chosen few?
To meet life, to see clearly that this is a temporary state, and not fear the unknown. 
To watch my children grow, pick dandelions, skip to the latest beat.
To watch my lover throw back in ecstasy and feel the grace of climax.
To witness the birth of a baby,
To see into anotherís soul and stand with them at the doorway,
The Gateway of Life
And Death.

To witness Courage, Dignity and Love.
To cry with you through hurt and stumble along beside you; to laugh at death and the blackness that others fear.
To give up the anxiety of endings and share the excitement of letting go.
These are the lessons of the healthy one.
To bear witness, commune with the life forces around us
And listen in the wind for your voices to come back to me.

Please make sure to scream loud and clear. 

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