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by John Panza

When the nurse
removed the drain
from my thorax,
the half-inch-thick
rubber tube
slid out the way
a dagger would
sink in, quietly,
starved of drama
or even pain.
But the second one
the surgeon himself
removed after a
month or two,
after the chemo,
and the sleepless
nights and opioid-
induced nightmares
as I slept sitting up
on a chair, the living-
room a cozy ER
managed by my wife,
pale with fear,
thin with energy,
lost but for this job,
expecting me not to
wake one morning.
That drain unraveled
in me inch-by-inch
like a garter snake,
slowly uncoiling
like the DNA
that failed me and
brought this plague
upon me and my
nurses, doctors, wife,
and child. Then the tube
was out, its length thin
and gleaming. The
surgeon patted me
on the shoulder,
told me it’s ok.

About the Author

John Panza lives in Cleveland, Ohio, USA, on the shore of Lake Erie. He is a professor, musician, music producer, and president of a music foundation. He also sleeps sometimes. Find him on IG @jp1lung.