(04 October 1943 / Germany)

Spark Of Death

At birth there is a fleeting spark
that signals hasty flight from dark.
Throughout our lives we never shed
that link which binds us to the dead.

Each cell is born with strict instruction
to live but practice self-destruction
according to a pre-set time
that's when it hears the Hayflick chime.

But, in a crowd of any creatures
one finds both pupils and their teachers,
the pupils usually conform
and set their sails for the last storm.

For those who've seen a glimpse of Hell
it's easy to ignore the bell.
And, blow me down, they do succeed
in chopping death down like a weed.

With urgent moves they now must find
new pastures, leave the old behind.
So, tearing down the walls of cells
until they're left with empty shells.

All sugar is devoured with glee
new energy now sets them free.
They wander, take the smoothest path
until one day, you, in the bath

discover what does not belong
you know that something's very wrong.
You hear, in trance, the diagnosis
it sticks, 'malignant polyposis',

with secondaries everywhere
it really is too much to bear.
You yell, once home, at God to show
that you've acknowledged this mean blow.

And then, he gave you no reply
you hurl at him the question 'why'.
Why me, what have I done to get
wrapped up inside your cancer net.

But all is silent in the sky
the world awaits your meek goodbye.
Oncologists in starchy white
talk bravely of the coming fight.

They act as if they had a clue
and smilingly they lie to you.
Percentages of great success
will soon extract you from this mess.

But you already know the score,
the industry, that greedy whore
with cotton-picking fingers will
clean you right out, to get its fill.

You run, because the neighbourlady
has recommended Mrs. Grady,
who dabbles in the herbs and potions
and dwells in rare, exotic notions.

She tells you, to be cancer free
you must drink gallons of your pee.
And add some rather special pills
it's Mother Nature, for all ills.

You run again, and find a kind
and earnest man who speaks his mind.
Turns out he mobilises powers
from God at all ungodly hours.

He hands you his collection bin
and says that prayer makes you win.
You've had enough and now decide
that you won't go on any ride.

Back home you open up the cupboard
get out the book by reverend Hubbard
and one decanter of friend Jack
the one whose label is pitch black.

And as you skim the pages slowly
your body slips into a holy
and pleasant state, into the night.
And in the morning, at first light

the clicking of the Postman's shoes
wakes only dogs devoid of booze.
There is a letter with a head
of bold credentials for the dead.

The text says 'this is to inform
results were all within the norm'.
Thus, in the end she trusted Jack
they left and neither did come back.

User Rating: 3,5 / 5 ( 3 votes ) 3

Comments (3)

a sometimes wild scary trip but also funny.
An excellent tale of a poem Herbert. At turns moving, intelligent and witty. And finely crafted at that.Thank you.
the mexicans i worked with for a couple of years referred to alcohol as medicina...Ever hear of Louise Hayes? A holistic/spiritual writer who connects illness to negative thinking, , , polyps i believe she connects to..'Little manifestations of hate'