The Cancer Gang

initiation

is painful

but quick

before

you know

you’ve signed up

been beaten

down

you’re enrolled

entangled

in a web

created by circumstance

your friends

your family

do not understand

why you accept

the inevitable

they are mad

frustrated

scared

as you are branded

by gang symbols

scars and funny haircuts

you’re labeled

titled

and it’s not just

for a day

week

month

year

you’re a lifer

many die

trying

to get out

others give it up

give in

to the new code words

time tables

to the abandonment

of a life previous

some survive

the last

beating

gang bang

but they remember

that once you’re in

you’re in

and something can always

lurk

beneath

the shadows

of your skin

© Julie Bolitho “The Cancer Gang,” Poem. Survivor’s Review. Vol 15, 2014; online edition, found at: http://www.survivorsreview.org/features.php?vol=15&art=220

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© Julie Bolitho 2018