He thought if he could just tell everyone
everything he knew about colon cancer, he might be able to save

someone, and so this had, in his retirement,
become his hobby, his calling, his job, he sometimes joked, saying,

a dirty one, but someone has to do it,
and he visited people in the hospital and started a prayer group and

a MySpace and Face Book and a blog,
and even uploaded a short video discussing the necessity of frequent

colonoscopies for those with certain genetics
on YouTube which actually got a lot of hits because he was affable

and self-deprecating and looked a lot
like Santa or Walt Whitman depending on the sympathies of the viewer.

And he delivered pizza. They needed him;
he knew the neighborhoods, and he didnít get too upset when stiffed.

Thatís life he would say, or They looked so poor,
I thought I should give them some money. When he asked his daughter

to use her phone to video his next colonoscopy
so he could upload it, to show how easy it really was, the family thought

maybe he was losing it. There have
to be some boundaries, some limits, they pleaded, but he said, This is all

Iíve got. Itís who I am, and what I have
to give.
The daughter, of course, said no, but when the father finally died,

his funeral was packed, the calls and emails
a flood, most from people heíd never met in person. He was there for me

when my husband died; he prayed with me
for my sonís recovery; he sent me daily emails when I was having chemo.


A record of their fatherís strange intimacies
in the virtual world, a second life that wouldnít end with his physical one.


Laura McCullough's third collection of poems, SpeechActs, is forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press (2010). Her second collection of poems, What Men Want, is out February 1 from xoxox Press with blurbs by Hilda Raz, Denise Duhamel, and Kurt Brown. Her first, The Dancing Bear, debuted in 06 with jacket blurbs by Stephen Dunn, Li-young Lee, and BJ Ward. In 07, Mudlark published her chapbook of prose poems, Elephant Anger, and she won her second NJ State Arts Council Fellowship, this time in poetry; the first was in prose. She has an MFA in fiction from Goddard College. In 07, she attended the Summer Solstice Writers Conference, went to Bread Loaf again as part of the Social Staff, attended the Colrain Poetry Manuscript Conference and the Vermont Studio Center. Her work has appeared recently or is forthcoming in The American Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, Harpur Palate, Guernica, Crab Orchard Review, The Oklahoma Review, Perihelion, Anti-poetry, Tusculum Review, Hanging Loose, Pebble Lake Review, The Hiram Poetry Review, Gargoyle, Iron Horse Quarterly, The Hiss Quarterly, The Pedestal, The Potomac, Nimrod, Boulevard, Tattoo Highway, Gulf Coast, Hotel Amerika, Poetry East, The Portland Review, and others. Her book reviews have appeared in such places at Webdelsol Review of Books, The Potomac, and Small Spiral Notebook. Laura is a doctoral candidate in poetry at the University of Essex.


| Write to the Author | Archives