Inside this grave
womb that drums
and groans
as it takes

of my spine

I hear it
seem to say

go             /              you go

don’t       /             you go


don’t go               /                 don’t

go now                  /                 don’t

I’m 52, inside
this calibrated tube, this
picture box
and singing machine

that will tell
my doctors if
the drugs and

marrow have
been killing
the tumors set
on killing me

go             /                 don’t grow

don’t       /               go

The droning
chant of this
temporary tomb
returns me

to Junuh at the ocean
only four
and screaming
into the waves

the two of us
charging, arms
flailing like
the fleshy swords they are

the water beating us
back before
we Charge! again,
roaring the whole time.

We can’t give up. We
have to fight, he says.
And back in we go
wild into the wake.

don’t go               /                 don’t

go                             /                  don’t

go now                   /                grow

grow    /                 you

grow    /                 no

don’t      /                   go

don’t      /                   grow

go                /               no

From Filched (Dos Madres Press, 2017). Copyright © 2017 by James Tolan. Used with the permission of Holly Messitt.