“Fentanyl & Cheerios” By Phil Lane

Like weather geeks
before the doppler,
we gathered
in oncology to watch
the storm spread
to the spine, the pelvis,
the blood, the bone.
There were advisories and alerts,
watches and finally,
a warning:
there is nothing more to do.

After the metastasis,
there was only denial
and that plumbing smell
of catheters and
colostomy;
your face in a rictus
of pain, a crown
of nettles where
your hair
used to grow
in Italian curls.

Coffined in bed,
you asked me to water
your peonies, to hold
your hand. I fed you
fentanyl and Cheerios
while my brother wept
and my father went
away.

I rinse the bowl
and toss the syringe,
turn The Waltons
on low. John Boy
says something
and I think
I hear you chuckle
but it’s only the sound
of the death rattle
in your throat.


Phil Lane is a social worker and Boston Terrier/Bob Dylan enthusiast living in Northwestern New Jersey. His poetry and fiction have been appearing online and in print periodically over the past decade.

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