Library of Congress

Poetry and Literature

The Library of Congress > Poetry & Literature> Poet Laureate > Past Poet Laureate Projects > Poetry 180 > Full List of Poems > Poem 160
{ site_name: 'Poetry', subscribe_url:'/share/sites/library-of-congress/poetry.php' }

Back to Full List of 180 Poems


The minute the doctor says colon cancer
you hardly hear anything else.
He says other things, something
about something. Tests need to be done,
but with the symptoms and family something,
excess weight, something about smoking,
all of that together means something something
something something, his voice a dumb hum
like the sound of surf you know must be pounding,
but the glass window that has dropped down
between you allows only a muffled hiss
like something something. He writes a prescription
for something, which might be needed, he admits.
He hands you something, says something, says goodbye,
and you say something. In the car your wife says
something something and something about dinner,
about needing to eat, and the doctor wanting tests
doesn’t mean anything, nothing, and something
something something about not borrowing trouble
or something. You pull into a restaurant
where you do not eat but sit watching her
eat something, two plates of something,
blurry in an afternoon sun thick as ketchup,
as you drink a glass of something-cola
and try to recall what the doctor said
about something he said was important,
a grave matter of something or something else.

—James Valvis

James Valvis, “Something.”

Reprinted by permission of the author.

Poetry 180

About the Poet

James Valvis (1969- ) is the author of the collection How to Say Goodbye (2011). His poetry also appears in Ploughshares, New York Quarterly, and Atlanta Review. Valvis currently lives in Issaquah, Washington.