Under the CyberKnife

Judson Scruton

                    Expectant, bound, I wait
for the robotic arm
          to deliver
                              intense radiation
                    to cancerous prostate.

                    The probing eye of the radial arm
searches for my marked gland
          to the soundtrack of my choosing–
                              gentle waves, then pounding surf.
                    Where am I? What am I?

                    Zeus ordered Prometheus chained to a rock
for creating man and stealing fire
          and sent each evening an eagle
                              to search for and devour his liver,
                    the seat of rebellious emotions.

                    The physician du Laurens
in the glare of the Renaissance
          chose the name “pro-sta-tae”
                              and thought it was one of a pair
                    and gave it a female gender.

                    What gender indeed
when this probing machine
          is done with its
                              hypofractionated stereotactic radiation
                    of the wellspring of my engendering.

                    The good Web MD told me
that frequent ejaculations
          reduce the odds of prostate cancer.
                              Two working wives, three children later…
                    now they tell me.

                    Prometheus grew his liver back each day
but finally Hercules
          shot the bird and set him free.
                              In gratitude Prometheus told him how
                    to capture the Golden Apples of immortality.

                    Here on this rocky promontory
I hear the raking tides
          of creation, destruction and release,
                              an ancient plot of myth and science,
                    the body an ever-changing tale.

About the poet:

Judson Scruton teaches literature and writing at Fairfield University, in Connecticut, and frequently leads poetry seminars at the Wilton Library. He is a published poet and produced playwright.

About the poem:

“This poem was based on my experience in 2014 with radiation treatment for cancer. The poem’s line breaks mirror my perception of the motions of the radiation arm of the Cyberknife during treatment.”

Poetry editors:

Johanna Shapiro and Judy Schaefer

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5 thoughts on “Under the CyberKnife”

  1. I read your poem tonight with trepidation and awe. I applaud you for your auto ethnographic impulse. You laid bare your experience, which leads the reader to have empathy and good feelings to you. My dad had cyber knife eight years ago. He was in remission for seven years, What they don’t tell you is that after having this treatment, it precludes all other treatments if you have a re-occurrence . My dad is now is on hormone therapy which is working to keep his PSA under 0.7. There is no other choice. I wish you well and that other people with this illness understand the implications of choice.

  2. Enjoyed the poem, with its nod to mythology, and technology and irony. I hope you are well and continuing to teach. I can tell from the quality of the poem your class would be well worth taking!!

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Call for Entries​

Pulse Writing Contest​​

"On Being Different"