Fighting for Your Life is Boring: A poem

Here is a poem I am working on for my cancer poetry book. Would you make any edits to this?

Fighting for your life is boring
Unending sameness.
6:45 a.m., parking lot with the same four cars.
Truck, SUV, VW Bug and red Audi
in their same four spaces near the staff entrance.

In the clinic the lights flicker on
room by room:
Break room, hall, reception desk;
then the front door opens.

Walking the same path with my
green bag and ID in hand,
the same women greats me with the same sad smile
and buzzes me in.

The mind numbs.
The routine doesn’t change –
sameness without end,
comforting madness.

Routine and protocol are the cure:
same beam at the same spot,
small doses day after day,
to end the cancer.

Endurance becomes the key.
Just need to keep putting
on the gown
and lying on the couch.

And each day the cheerful chart nurse
stops to tell me of
another famous actor
I remind her of.

Till next week,

About Andrew Reynolds

Born in California Did the school thing studying electronics, computers, release engineering and literary criticism. I worked in the high tech world doing software release engineering and am now retired. Then I got prostate cancer. Now I am a blogger and work in my wood shop doing scroll saw work and marquetry.
This entry was posted in Poems, Prostate Cancer and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

45 Responses to Fighting for Your Life is Boring: A poem

  1. Reminds me of my time on dialysis…so familiar.


    • Yes, the two would be similar. There was a chemo room at my clinic, the folks there made comments like this too. Most times it seems like it’s only on TV that doctors and nurses rush around with crash carts and start pounding on people’s chests frantically trying to save someone.


  2. PiedType says:

    Sure struck a chord with me. I just finished radiation treatment for breast cancer last week.


  3. Hi Andrew. Leave it reads well to me. Thank you for liking my poem Released! Peace and Best Wishes. The Foureyed Poet.


  4. dorannrule says:

    I read it for feeling and you went beyond being bored to feeling hollow and repeatedly unsure in a starkly sterile atmosphere. Your poem conveys enormous feeling about the quest for healing, and even the comfort of sameness in working toward that goal. I love your poem Andrew – as is.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. No one can write your poem for you. It occurred to me, though, that boredom builds, has something additive about it, goes from the small stuff to greater and greater “stuff”. You’ve added the details perfectly….but guess what….you gave it away with the title! Have you thought of trying a more ordinary (boring) title, and saving that great line: “fighting for your life is boring” for the very last line?

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I have nothing to add that hasn’t been said. Very powerful.


  7. JoHanna Massey says:

    Your poem, your way, perfect.


  8. Nicely done. My suggestions? Take it for what it’s worth… Delete the second line in the first stanza. Show all the “unending sameness” without using the word “same”. The old show don’t tell rule. Maybe leave one for a punch. You have enough great details in there to exemplify the tedium of receiving cancer treatment. I can only imagine how difficult it must be. x


  9. Well that was intriguing A comment on how even critical jobs can be like manning the toll booth on a freeway? Or writing a novel for years on end? Love it.


  10. jfwknifton says:

    For me, I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s perfect.Very, very, moving. It doesn’t need anybody making tiny changes here, there and everywhere.


  11. lifelessons says:

    Nitpicky small edits, but that’s what editors are for. Stanza 1: comma after boring and take capital letter off unending or put period after boring and leave capital. Stanza 2, uncapitalize Break room; Stanza 3, woman, not women.

    The last stanza is exceptional. The others do just what you want them to––convey boredom. The irony is that something so vital to your continuing existence could be so boring. You accomplish your purpose. Good work. I think putting too much sensory detail would detract from the theme–the utter boredom of the experience. Judy


    • I always have trouble with punctuating poems. Too easy for me to focus on the image or feeling and forget the mechanics. There are a couple of sensory things I might add, like the fact that it was dark and cold outside when I got there. We’ll see. Thanks for the input.

      Liked by 2 people

      • lifelessons says:

        I would never mention the nitpicky things unless you asked. Important that you emphasize the writing and the feeling. The mechanics can always be nudged around afterwards. I am a not-so-reformed former English teacher, so the small things jump out at me; but I still think, as you do, that the meaning and word choice are more important. But, why not have it all right?

        I saw a cartoon the other day entitled “English teachers at 3 A.M.” A woman lies, eyes wide open, in bed. Her thought bubble says, “I just keep imagining all those people on the internet right now, misspelling words!”



  12. lorieb says:

    your choice of words makes the experience seem so vivid, yet so hard to imagine what you are going through.


  13. “the same women greats me” should be “the same woman (-an, not -en) greets (not greats) me.”

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Wesley Beal says:

    I’d recommend adding more sensory details. For example in the first stanza it mentions the “parking lot with the same four cars.
    Truck, SUV, VW Bug and red Audi
    in their same four spaces”…

    Given the time of year and location (but mostly what feeling you want to convey) do those cars have frost on them? dew?

    I’d recommend adding those kind of details throughout. What is the couch made of? fabric? is it firm? smooth? rough?

    What smells are there?

    For example:


    • There are other details that can be added. I’ll think about ones that might be. The interesting thing to me about smell was that the place had no real smell. It didn’t smell like a hospital. No strong chemicals, disinfectants, etc. I’ll have to think about that. Thanks for the suggestions!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. artseafartsea says:

    The sameness, the boredom, you capture that so well. I would not change anything.


  16. Bioman says:

    I reckon it’s pretty cool – I’ve read hte figures and you are in good company with the ol’ prostate thingummy! Good luck and stay sane!


  17. Hi Andrew,
    One typo of note: “same woman greets me, not greats me”
    Only thing that jumps out at me is that I think you could lose the line “to end the cancer” after “small doses day after day” for more power. It is not necessary, and for whatever reason it seems more intense without it.
    That is just my 2 cents. It’s great. Keep on keepin’ on.


    • Thanks for the comments. It’s amazing, but three editors have missed the “greets” vs. “greats.” I’ll make that change. I was trying for four line stanzas so I’ll have to think about the other suggestion.


      • As I tell everyone in my critique group, use what works, lose the rest. ‘Tis but a suggestion! You know your writing better than I!


        • The hardest part of hearing feedback is deciding which input to use and what to reject. Tough balancing act sometimes.


        • No kidding. The struggle makes you a better writer though… refines those things that are negotiable and up for discussion versus those things that are part of you, part of your writing, for better or for worse. It is indeed a hard thing to find that fine line! I say, go with your gut, and when in doubt, stick to your guns and don’t change for someone else. Unless maybe they’re holding the key to some ridiculous publishing deal. And you’re ready to sell you soul. Keep writing!

          Liked by 1 person

  18. George says:

    Point of view very well done. So hard to understand unless you’ve been there.


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