When Reality Takes a Bite

[My first attempt at spoken word. Rough cut and raw. A poem for my beautiful friend V, who put the V in living sincerely.]

When Reality Takes a Bite

Sometimes reality is sweet

LIke a Gala apple

aka a party in your mouth

if you do the semantics.

Here’s some antics

—When my mother-in-law eats an apple

She doesn’t just eat the apple

She eats the core

Which is pretty much the definition of sucking the marrow

When it comes to eating apples.

(Hard core to the “Outlaw.”)

—My husband dressed up as Johnny Appleseed once when he was a boy.

All he did was stick a pan on his head

And he went trick-or-treating like that

But boy he raked it in.

Sometimes life is sweet like that.

And maybe there’s some genetic predisposition to it all?

I don’t know this but

I do know #thatawkward moment there’s a worm in your apple.

Neither half of the apple

Nor the worm in your mouth

is sweet.

And there ‘aint enough tequila to knock that sucker back.

Cuz sometimes reality




And you try and spit it out

Cuz it’s too hard to swallow.

Like when the doctor calls and you feel the tug of the rug

Pulled right out from under your reality

With ONE word.

My word began with a big damn C.

I don’t know what your word begins with.

All I know is…

Sticks and stones my ass. 

That one God-damned word

Knocked all three of my kids down

To the ground

on August 20, 2008

at 5 o’clock.

We were huddled around the phone

When it rang.

I dropped the phone

After the doctor said the word cancer

Because my kids fell sobbing, to the floor

And I needed both hands to do the math:

1 lap, 2 arms, 3 kids

2 breasts

but they’d have to go


but they did their job.

And if you read my book then you know they were hot

Like the tears falling down my kids faces

When I gathered them up off the floor and drew them into my bosom

One last time.

And I wanted to pay the archer to shoot the crab

Cuz it’s God-damned pinchers woke up my babies

To this reality.

I’m a Libra so this seemed a just-ified sentence.

Oh, for the gavel big enough to take down the big damn C.

(Rock-paper-ROCK) bigger stones have been rolled away.

(Rock-paper-SCISSORS) don’t stop believing’! Let’s cut this shit out!

(Rock-paper-PAPER) show me the CURE.

And not just the pink one

But the greens and the blues

All of the hues

Even the Walter Whites.

Everybody trying to Livestrong.

But especially the kids.

Oh brother where art thou gavel?

Cancer is a

Cancer is a bitch wine

I’ll drink to that.

I can testify to that.

Cancer. is. a. bitch.

But especially, when it picks on kids.

A couple of weeks ago I went to a little girl’s funeral

She was 8 years, 7 months, 9 days YOUNG.

The Piano Man said “Only the good die young”

And on days like that I believe him.

Days like that I wanna slam that damn gavel down

God (slam) Damn (slam) Cancer (slam)


She’s resting now.

But there’s no rest, for the rest

No peace

Till we make war on cancer

—All the cancers

And knock them all down one by one

Like dominoes.

That same day

The day I witnessed that gross injustice

Of a young mother beside herself beside her little girl’s casket

And I’m here

—If I’m here for any reason

—And there has to be a reason

—I’m. still. Here.

to testify

to such



That same day

That. same. damn. day.

A man

(he happens to be my age)

And has a son

Who hangs out with my sons.

Well that day that boy lost his daddy

To the same damn cancer that poisoned Apple.

Because there isn’t an app for that yet.

The evening of that same day

I visited a beautiful friend of mine who is dying

from the same damn pink elephant of a cancer

that doubles as a pink monkey on my back.

I took her some groceries

But no apples.

She didn’t ask for any and I didn’t buy any.

Her husband said maybe some Lucky Charms.

So I brought the biggest damn box I could find, and some milk.

And since Valentine’s Day was around the corner—

Which feels very far away when your friend is dying—

I found a Dorie from Finding Nemo Pez dispenser—

Which seems like a funny Valentine—

But I never ever saw anyone keep on swimming

Like she kept on, keeping on swimming.

But I know how this story goes and I know she finds Nemo.

I’ve been taking my time

Eating mine

But my Pez dispenser is empty.

Oh, my heart.

This scar.

And this scar

Beneath the pink ribbon

Beneath this big c

(I copy”write” that shit)

I used to suck on a green apple Jolly Rancher

To keep me from the hurly burleys

From the tin taste when they accessed the port

To pour in the poison

—24 chemo cocktails

Damn, bartender.

Still…paying that big damn tab.

You’d think I hate green apple Jolly Ranchers by now

But I don’t.

They remind me I’m alive.

And that sometimes even when reality bites

It can be sweet.

And I’m thankful they “handled” the aftertaste”

Of accessing the port

Cuz that poison “handled” the cancer.

God damn cancer.

Where’s that gavel?


My beautiful friend died at 8:04 yesterday morning.









I can try and spit it out all I want

—And I want

But there it is

Right here

on the floor next to me.

I can try and wipe away the bitter aftertaste

But I don’t have any sleeves.

And even if I did,

The spooge would be on my sleeve.

I’d still smell it.

I can try and step on it

Smash it into the ground

This same ground

But we’ve been there before

It stuck on my shoe

And all I did was make a little


I can try to kick it.

Been there, done that

Made a mess.

And it’s going to take more than Bounty to wipe up this mess and put it

In the trashcan.

I wish it were that easy.

But fuck easy.

Fuck cancer.

If Dorie can find Nemo

Surely we can find a cure.


  1. Anne Etges says:

    good, very very good. Well written, well spoken, Beautiful sentiment. All the right anger in all the right places. Thanks for your words. Some bit of comfort in the grief that is V’s passing.

  2. hgslg3838 says:

    Reblogged this on When the Going Getz Tough and commented:
    Wow I love this poem. I have been feeling the same way as I just found out my cousin’s Grandpa’s cancer is back and a friend, who has been fighting cancer, just found out his wife is now going to fight breast cancer. When will this end? Today is National Cancer Day but every day is Cancer Day to me and always will be because I can’t get away from it. I can’t escape it. It is around every corner. It is enough to drive one crazy if one lets it. Joules thank you for putting what all of us as survivors feel into words.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *