“Bone Marrow Biopsy Reverberations” and “Return to Gamble Garden”

Poetry by Robert Rubino

“Bone Marrow Biopsy Reverberations” and “Return to Gamble Garden”

Bone Marrow Biopsy Reverberations

The oncologist instructs you to lie face down

like you’re going to get a massage

except you’re not going to get a massage.

And you think of the thousands of dollars

you spent while hooked on erotic massage

during the final years of your third marriage.

The oncologist plunges a needle as long as your middle finger

into the base of your spine

and says it’ll feel like a bee sting.

And you remember sixty summers ago

when you and both younger brothers

were stung by bees … right between the eyes.

Was that the summer you failed to protect one of them

from bullies? Or was it the summer you misread the other’s

raised-arm alarm for a vigorous swimming-hole hello?

You’re told you’re a good patient with a high pain tolerance

and you flash back to twelve years of Catholic schools and you think:

no — obedient & stoic with high tolerance for authority figures.

You’re told you’ll get the bone marrow biopsy results

in two weeks and you realize you’ve heard the word “marrow”

more times this month than in all your seventy-three years.

And you remember your mother telling you when you were a child:

eat your baked beans — they’ll put marrow in your bones

and you had no idea if that were true … or even what it meant.

Return to Gamble Garden

(Palo Alto, California, April 1, 2021)

We masked visitors return to gorgeous Gamble Garden

as if nothing notable happened this past year

where a sinking sun still backlights side-by-side tall trees

as if nothing changed not even the calendar

as if we hadn’t been savagely shark-sharp chewed up

and nearly swallowed into an abyss of loveless regret

as if nothing happened this past year

as if not damaged by a son’s renewed estrangement

by siblings struggling with disease & demons

by friendship riven & still unrestored

cheery cherry blossoms still in full fragrant bloom

as if nothing changed not even the calendar

as if all the tumult & tragedy out there & in here

all the ignorance & ignominy willful & clueless

all the waste & haste & existential dread

from a whole year gone have all gone

to wherever nightmares migrate

after they’ve had their foul fun with us.

About the Author

Robert Rubino

Robert Eugene Rubino has published prose and poetry in various online and print literary journals, including Hippocampus, The Esthetic Apostle, Raw Art Review, MacQueen's Quinterly, The Write Launch, Cathexis Northwest, High Shelf Press, Gravitas, Forbidden Peak Press and Haunted Waters Press. He's old enough to remember the Cuban Missile Crisis and smart enough to solve the New York Times crossword puzzle on Mondays (other days not so much). He lives in Northern California.