Space Hydrogel

Nurse inserts lifts
to hold up my calves.
Stirrups, I think to myself:
this must be
what it’s like.
Oncologist appears
between my legs; I crack a joke.
Doctor looks where Doctor is going…
I pass out.

First Treatment

No pain,
no pain,
no pain,
says the Tech:
something I already knew.
They give me a rubber ring
to grasp, and slide me in.
I feel like a dolphin
transferring tank-to-tank.

Disneyland For Seniors

Slide in,
slide out:
slide back in again.
Look at those laser lights—

Castrato Moderno

No one should be doing this
at 7:15 in the morning. Frying
a prostate, I mean.
It changes your pee,
and makes your penis teeny.
It offers you a future with
The Vienna Boys Choir.

Monday Procedure

Eye of green laser
looks down on mine
like the eye on a dollar bill.
Warmup whine of machine.
My Bergman-brain
plays chess with Death
from a prone position.


My cock, my cock, my cock—
where is it? Collapsed
like an accordion:
no more music.
Who needs sex anyway?
Maybe dry orgasm—
we’ll see.

Starting to Feel like Work

Five days a week,
weekends off. Instrument
smiles and grins,
sucks me in.
“Nice to see you!” I say,
in my politic way.
Clank, whirr, buzz,
it replies.

Science as Magic

When two women
pull down your pants,
you know this is going to be fun.
It was Monday—I’d forgotten
to lower my shorts for the beam.
“It’s only one cyst,” says the Doc.
“The problem we’re treating is small.”
Maybe this voodoo can work after all.

Rounding a Corner

Never know when
something like this will hit.
Rain overnight;
I leak on the board.
Everything set
to produce humiliation:
price of remission.

Lines Inside a Linac

Some refuse vaccination:
I get a death ray to the crotch.
Techs are attentive, ask
if I want a warm blanket.
“Yes,” I reply, as always.
Why be cold
while having an organ

Counting Down the Days

First a kiss,
then insertion:
scan, adjust, begin.
Relax, relax, relax.
Allow your natural charm
to carry you through.


Big mechanical womb
sucks me in: beam
penetrates deep.
Then I pop out
like a bigender tart.
How hip.

Friday Before My Final Week

Up since 2 AM—
I doze on the plank.
This is the kind of
medical procedure
I like.

Over Soon

I’m weak,
but the blanket is warm:
no longer having much fun.
Chunka chunka chunka
goes machine,
circling the beam
round my pelvis.
Three more days,
that’s it.

Last Treatment

Techs adjust my frame
on the plank, use dots
tattooed to my skin  
for the purpose. Linac
slides me in. Aztecs 
had nothing on us,  
I think to myself.
Five minutes later
I’m done. No ritual:  
a rescue.


Did it do any good—did they
get the whole thing?
Blood draw next week
to find out. Oh look,
a dry orgasm!
Not bad.

Selected byJordan Trethewey
Image credit:National Cancer Institute

Lance Jencks has been writing poetry for fifty years. In the 1970s he earned an MFA in Playwriting and a PhD in Contemporary Theatre. In the 1980s he published his verse-based roman á clef, "The Wisdom of Southern California," then toured that region with a one-man show of the same name. Lance has been an advertising copywriter, a stock-and-bond broker, and the guy who hooks your car to the chain at the car wash. He lives today in Newport Beach, California, where he was recently featured in the epic bodysurfing movie "Dirty Old Wedge" on Amazon.