After I staunch a river of blood
from a shrapnel wound,
blood poisoning begins—
red streaks up and down my arm,
lymph glands the size of golf balls.
I chain smoke cigarettes
in a wait that never ends,
tormented thoughts begin—
a life without my right arm.
How would I write, get dressed,
brush my teeth, pleasure a girl,
and wipe my ass,
After months at Walter Reed—
in 24 hour soaks in medication,
my arm is saved from amputation.