Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Forever a Sapling/Etoposide for Beginners

col·lab·o·rate  (k-lb-rt)
intr.v. col·lab·o·rat·ed, col·lab·o·rat·ing, col·lab·o·rates
1. To work together, especially in a joint intellectual effort.
2. To cooperate treasonably, as with an enemy occupation force in one's country.

Greetings, Garden Dwellers!

Marian and Izy are here to usher in mid-January with our collaborative effort for Toads In Tandem. We were especially determined to find a theme which would allow us some room to play and to contort the written word to our liking. 

Now, it could be suggested that it is dangerous to pair the two of us together... What countries would fall to our scheming? How many treasonable lunchtime rough drafts would be fired off to each other? What sort of infectious rebellion would run through our fingers, onto our keyboards and the dangerous battlefield of Google Docs? *bwah hah hah*

Wait no further, dearest Toads. It is without further grandstanding or hyperbole that we deliver our words to you.

Forever a Sapling/Etoposide for Beginners

Don’t bother pondering
what’s gonna happen
because it’s no secret:
I am coming for you,
and you can’t do a damn thing
to stop me.

Place those flowers in the trash can
and come closer, my sparrow.
For weeks, I have watched
mornings dissolve into afternoons
and no shadow as lovely as yours
has ever been cast across these walls.

Forget your lover, your children,
your poems yet to be written.
Forget the cherry tree you cultivated,
forever a sapling to you now.

Forget that my wrists
smell of iodine and bandages.
Forget that my toenails
have crusted orange from radiation.

Don’t bother giving up
your thrice-daily PBR
or try swapping bacon for tofu.
Don’t scribble in your journal
or make a fine documentary
lauded at Cannes
with 15 million YouTube hits--
The world might love you
but it don’t matter, you don’t matter.

Crawl into my sick bed, darling.
Rub your scruffy chin
across my fevered cheeks
and tickle my sallow knees
until they freckle.
Let’s give these blankets
something other than
deathwish sweat stains
to shake loose in the wash.

No race nor regimen’s
gonna help you at all--
You don’t even qualify
for a protracted goodbye.
I am coming for you
and you can’t do a damn thing
to stop me.

And then, we’ll lay still,
healthy limbs entwined
with my own.  
Knowing full well
there are worse ways
to waste away in bed. 

Photo copyright Isadora Gruye Photography


Mimi Foxmorton said...

Delicious chills!

Marcoantonio Arellano (Nene) said...

absorbed completely into the lust filled nuances. this captured me sensorially. Gracias!

Susan said...

No wonder you introduced with a wicked laugh! This wasting away dialogue didn't stay in the sick room but expanded mightily into the Universe. Could we earthlings be in Lust with death? Chilling indeed.

Fireblossom said...

Oh, now I'm doubly glad I added that little musical wink to Izy in my post yesterday.

There were two things here I had to Google: "Etoposide", which I'm glad I looked up before I started reading, and "PBR". I've been sober a very long while, and had completely forgotten about...Pabst Blue Ribbon.

It's clever how you've used the second definition! Occupying force indeed. I can't think of one that would be more immediate.

Perhaps oddly, there is a lot of funny stuff in this poem about cancer and death. Cannes. "tickle my sallow knees until they freckle". And of course, the very idea of inviting Death into one's bed, to mess up the sheets.

But it's still what it is, and it's grim and sad under the defiantly flip surface.

"Forget your lover, your children,
your poems yet to be written.
Forget the cherry tree you cultivated,
forever a sapling to you now."

Worse, "it don't matter. You don't matter." Everything in me rejects that, and yet, in a way, that's nature at its most unprettified.

It's an astonishing, thought-provoking, original poem, and the two of you have done a bang-up job on it. Bravo, ladies.

hedgewitch said...

Just startlingly good. There's something about the intimacy of this that holds a rather compellingly different perspective on things--that mortality is always inextricably intertwined with our identity, our selves, whether we acknowledge it or not, that human life is as frail and temporary as a mosquito, and until we accept that--here, literally embrace it--we're living in some sort of delusion--anyway, I found that total leveling to be very freeing. I could go on about the poetry and language for hours, but will just say the tone here, so intimate and conversational, so matter of fact, is half the poem. I also liked the 'forever a sapling' line--I'm always planting trees I'll never see grow up--and the symbolic quality of that is intertwined with the apparent futility. A great great collaboration. Thank you, Izy and Marian.

Judy Roney said...

I am blown away by this poem. I love just reading it outloud and feel the play of words across my tongue. I'm feeling very poetic now. Marvelous.

Margaret said...

Forever a sapling to you now....

I guess it could be both ways. I hear and see the voice of death on the left side... but ponder - is it death in her bed or a human lover as I think was suggested above. I tend to want to lean towards human - almost a "I'm gonna live life to the fullest, to the bitter end" attitude (which I admire and adore).

Truly, I'm applauding and SO PROUD to be a part of this garden!! WELL DONE, ladies.

Helen said...


I visualize a lover, I feel the pain and inevitability of the cancer, I hear 'I'm Gonna Live 'Till I Die' playing in the background, I can smell the drug as it drips into her arm ... and it all ends.


Kerry O'Connor said...

The love and death theme hit me hard! Death as the lover... love your own death...or 'til death us do part. All these or none. Love your life until it is over.

This poem is so overwhelmingly brilliant, I think it could discover a new species, end a war in a small European country, and find THE cure. It was there all along: we delay death every day until our time comes. Then we go.

I wish you had a larger platform for this piece. Send it to the New Yorker.

LLM Calling said...

what intensity, it's completely overwhelming. amazing.

Kir said...

wow. Alone you both are brilliant, together, you are hard to look at you shine so bright.

I felt myself cringe, felt the churn of fear of death in the pit of me. That last line was just incredible.

I can only wish comfort for someone that is losing that battle but fighting valiantly.

My first visit to the Garden, not my last.

Susie Clevenger said...

This poem is so striking..there are the words of death stating it won't be denied and the voice of love that speaks of giving beauty to last moments. Marian, Izy what a fantastic collaboration. You gave me tears and smiles...you moved my heart.

Scarlet said...

Fantastic collaboration Marian and Izy ~

My favorites stanzas are the middle - Forget your lover, forget that my wrist ~ Superb images and strong voice ~

Cheers ~

Other Mary said...

Sex and death...yup. It doesn't get any better than this.

Hannah said...

Ahhhh...wow...you gals have definitely danced the tango with death, (poetically of course), and came out looking as fresh as daisies!!

There're so many deep moments in this poem...and such a varying of feelings that swirl throughout each stanza...always bringing me to the edge of my seat...passion and fear, humor and so many very tangible details.

I can nearly place myself right into the scenes you've set into motion.

Just brilliant work you two!! Congratulations and thank you for delving into this project!!

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Human, brilliant, courageous, valiant - all the very best stuff of being alive and facing the challenges of life in a human body - with a ton of 'tude on top. Fantastic work, you two. It sizzles. You have set the bar so high. Yoiks.

Stacey said...

Knocked it right out of the park with this one, guys. Do what Kerry suggested. Send this one everywhere.

Marian said...

Toads, i've been lying around sickly today half-deliriously enjoying your responses. i think i can speak for Izy in declaring our pairing primely inspiring. thank you, Izy & thanks, friends.

Unknown said...

Thumb your nose at conventional attitudes toward cancer, illness, death. Live big. Be bold. Mess around and mess up and dare the damn drug to make you sick. You two women have created a poem that might should be read aloud at the first meeting of every "living with cancer" support group. Having closely accompanied a dear friend through her last twelve months, I know this would do lots of good.

Unknown said...

oooh a delicious collaboration for sure, so much fun to read and such messages contained within. x

Herotomost said...

Like a Toads dream team with torn lingerie, smoking Grape primetimes and hopped up on a case of 5-hour energy shots. Collaborations are like bouncing a racquetball between two peoples thoughts...this is like you are using steel ball bearings and if one of you misses the smash....there goes an eye. I really enjoyed this, I care...I petend that I dont. I pay attention....more than you think. I love you enough to make your life a living hell and then reel you in with velvet glove. This is a Hootie and the Blowfish tune (She's says Stipe's the one I love the moooossstt....but Dad's not far Behiiiiind). Great work ladies...I am suitably impressed.

Marian said...

If you only knew how much that Hootie reference means to me, Corey. *ahem* *also ACK*

Herotomost said...

Not only that Marian...but I got the lyrics backward...lol. I so suck. You can shoot me know. I liked the analogy...

Marian said...

Hah Corey I heart you!

Isadora Gruye said...

>>>Hi Fives Marian<<<<< They like us, they really like us!

Thanks to all for your many a wonderful comments on the poem that Marian and I wrote. After a long day at the office it was nice to come home and see all the comments waiting.

My thanks again to Marian: WE WILL BE DOING THIS AGAIN...unrequested.

Viva la

Lolamouse said...

This was one of my favorite all time poems! The collaboration appeared effortless, and your two voices were in perfect harmony. The love and death themes hit hard, as did the references to cancer w/o it screaming "This is a cancer poem!" So subtle and well done. (Flicks lighter for encore!)

Karen said...

Whoa! What a poem! This is a poem with perfect pitch.