Fall 2009 / Issues / Poetry 2009 / Volume 40

Afflicted — Raul Clement

Doxycycline, Ciprofloxacin, Ranitidine —

the names remind me

of distant stars whose light

I will never see

or else just what they are,

wishes instead of cures.

The doctor sticks a gloved finger

up my ass with one quick

motion. Not quick enough.

It is cold with jelly,

like the finger of an alien,

an inhabitant of Ranitidine.

No blood in my stool.

Bilrubin normal, no jaundice.

No hypoglycemia, lime tater negative.

Chest X-rays, brain MRIs, EKGs.

Blood pressure good, temperature 96.8,

Nothing to worry about.

No AIDS, no syphilis, no clap.

I drink the contrast dye.

It tastes like something I can’t remember,

something from elementary school,

the smell of new blacktop against

my bloody face

and the laughter of Leah German,

or any other girl I hoped

would love me.

I lie still until the machine beeps —

nothing like a tolling bell

so I do not ask

for whom?

and then I turn on my side.

Ten more minutes and I’m done

the nurse says.

I feel like something cooking.

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