POETRY: Cancer Blues by Thomas Merton

Cancer Blues by Thomas Merton

It’s a long hot night for cancer blues I sing
I listen to the tree frogs and rain while someplace
Else my Baby grows to be a magic Indian healer
My sweet Babe with special ways to fight a fever and cure
The biting black root-idea
With levelheaded advice and love for the hopeless hunted SOUL.

It is a long night of rain to pass my time with cancer of the heart
But my Baby glows like medicine out there in the dark
Growing to be a living healer and radium
I grub these roots alone in the mud
I thrash around
In my solitary swamp amid the hot frog blues. But all the time
She grows a little wiser and draws near
With that sweet healing temperament and compassion
Busy knocking out the Cannibal TRIBES.

All alone out here in a mess of wild
Animals I kick my cancer bucket around
And every move I make I sink a little deeper but my Baby
Every minute knows another new way to get me out again
For she knows how to heal
She grows to be the punishment of dark sickness and sin
She is a sweet relentless punishing INDIAN.

Busy knocking out the pioneer gold-hunting tribes
She grows another day more perfect and wise
Cleaning this town of racetrack vampires and sham aristocrats
For her fiery gentle healing light is half a mile WIDE.

I am alone this long side of the city roof—
Tops and go down to my cellar blues
O Honey love away my cancer
With your distant radio-electric loving glance and your caressing thought
For today they have hit me hard in the city
They have beat me with their official chain
They have hit the easy places of my head with the heel of a clerical shoe
And I am now flying dead over the
Town sending you
The rush signals of emergency love and dread
As I speed homeward full of cancer by the neutral
Highways out of Town.

It is a long night out in the hot frog unintelligent country
Where you listen to my faint cries of cancer fading out
But hold on Baby and believe and be a healer
Be an Indian photo-electric CURE.

And if you don’t know any winner bet on the kind that runs
And if you don’t know any music listen to the one
Who writes these cancer blues for you in the unlucky country Out by this STONE.

Honey bet on the kind that tries and leave the others
Make it fast into hell with all the windows open
Sights flying out and down the chemical lit up channels
Right through the front door of the Cannibal COMMAND.

It is a long time to forget how low we grow
Another night older Baby and alone while I
Am kicking that bitter cancer bucket out of my heart
While you become a lucky Indian STAR.

And now while you draw closer you point silently down
You never miss you point right down to the ROOT CURE.

All the way down in the sweet summer earth to clean
The hunted heart of the hell-blues because you are grown
Into a healer. You kicked the fever
And you won me Honey for keeps you won me
In the summer finals
Complete with cancer of the heart.

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