Gary Fincke: “The Malignancy of Stars”


Two hours to any sort of daylight,

yet a neighbor watches his wall-width screen.

A garbage truck makes just two stops along

our cul-de-sac street; the paper boy creeps

in his chuffing car. Beyond my neighbor’s,

an ambulance has been parked an hour

at the seniors complex where three friends live.

I figure the odds and drop to the floor

for the sit-ups and pushups that follow

coffee. Consider this, I tell myself.

And I settle upon the belief in

the malignancy of stars, how bodies

may be selected from a great distance

for diseases. My oral surgeon, just before

my last appointment, has been felled

by a cancer so rare his specialist

had never seen one. Yesterday, I learned

his practice is closed. The receptionist

promised to send my records once I sign

a waiver—X-rays before and after

surgery, additional ones to probe

serious complications. When I walk

to the newspaper, I am close enough

to make out what’s on, a woman speaking

from a bare stage, her gestures emphatic

and earnest.  The camera finds women

in the audience whose faces are rapt

with belief in whatever has been said.

And though the power of any star but

ours is as implausible as faith,

the morning whispers attrition, the squalls

of constellations pass patiently low.

Gary Fincke’s latest books are Bringing Back the Bones: New and Selected Poems, published by Stephen F. Austin in 2016, and The Killer’s Dog, winner of the Elixir Press Fiction Prize, in 2017.

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