Poem-A-Day: Priscilla Frake

Tonight’s poem was originally published in the Mutabilis Press anthology Time-Slice: Houston Poetry 2005. Priscilla Frake, the poet, read it at the last reading I attended, and I knew immediately I wanted to include it in this year’s series.


Fire and Brimstone

I’m about to become translucent,
a permeable shadow. Prostrate,
I sprawl along the metal altar,
where acolytes regard my chest
with bored and painted eyes.
They shift me and prod me and draw
on my skin with indigo Sharpies,
connecting dots made days ago with needles.

My arms are pinned above my head,
my face averted, twisted down.
I’m in the crosshairs, unable to move,
afraid to scream. The machine
heaves over me, lowers,
caresses me with sub-atomic
fire: a buzzing vibrato with clicks.
It’s invisible, painless,
and damaging.

My part is done. I dress and leave.
Outside, I wave to the child who waits.
She is the Girl Who Comes
with her Pappy-Who-has-Cancer.
I am the Lady with the Hat.


Priscilla Frake is the author of Correspondence, a book of epistolary poems.  She has work in Verse DailyNimrod, The Midwest Quarterly, Medical Literary MessengerCarbon Culture ReviewSpoon River Poetry Review, and The New Welsh Review. Her most recent online publications are in the latest editions of The Wayfarer and Canary. She lives in Sugar Land, where she is a studio jeweler. 

Truly, Madly, Deeply.

This has been a rough week for culture. First David Bowie, and now Alan Rickman has succumbed. There’s a reason why we use the word “cancer” to name a scourge that plagues us.

In 20 minutes, I will convene my Harry Potter class, and we will pay tribute to the man who gained an entirely new generation of fans by embodying the Half-Blood Prince.

Probably I will show them this:



And then I will show them this:



Rest in peace, Alan. Enjoy the Bowie concert.

September in October

This beautiful, brief, and important post was written by the mother of one of my students, and even though it’s not September anymore, I hope we can all take a moment to consider, while we are rightfully and appropriately “saving the ta-tas” this month, that a really important part of cancer research is woefully underfunded. Please share widely if you are so inclined.