Sunday Poetry Series Presents: Raul Clement

AFFLICTED
by Raul Clement

Doxycycline, Ciprofloxacin, Ranitidine—
the names remind me
of distant stars whose light
I will never see
or else just what they are,
wishes instead of cures.

The doctor sticks a gloved finger
up my ass with one quick
motion. Not quick enough.
It is cold with jelly,
like the finger of an alien,
an inhabitant of Ranitidine.

No blood in my stool.
Bilurubin normal, no jaundice.
No hypoglycemia, lime tater negative.
Chest X-rays, brain MRIs, EKGs.
Blood pressure good, temperature 96.8,
nothing to worry about.

No AIDS, no syphilis, no clap.

I drink the contrast dye.
It tastes like something I can’t remember,
something from elementary school,
the smell of new blacktop against
my bloody face
and the laughter of Leah German,
or any other girl I hoped
would love me.

I lie still until the machine beeps—
nothing like a tolling bell,
so I do not ask
for whom?
and then I turn on my side.
Ten more minutes and I’m done,
the nurse says.

All around me, the machine
buzzes and hums like an alien
landing pod.


Raul Clement is a fiction writer, poet, and musician living in Greensboro, NC. His work has appeared in various literary journals. The above poem was originally published in Coe Review and is reprinted here by permission of the author.

About Okla Elliott

I am currently an assistant professor at Misericordia University in northeast Pennsylvania. I hold a PhD in comparative literature from the University of Illinois, an MFA in creative writing from Ohio State University, and a legal studies certificate from Purdue University. My work has appeared in Cincinnati Review, Harvard Review, The Hill, Huffington Post, Indiana Review, The Literary Review, New Letters, Prairie Schooner, A Public Space, and Subtropics, as well as being listed as a "notable essay" in Best American Essays 2015. My books include From the Crooked Timber (short fiction), The Cartographer’s Ink (poetry), The Doors You Mark Are Your Own (a coauthored novel), Blackbirds in September: Selected Shorter Poems of Jürgen Becker (translation), and Bernie Sanders: The Essential Guide (nonfiction).
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4 Responses to Sunday Poetry Series Presents: Raul Clement

  1. SK says:

    Nice poem!!! I want to say something nasty, but I will refrain from doing so.

  2. Raul Clement says:

    Thanks, guys. SK: if the nastiness referred to the (admittedly vulgar) second stanza, then by all means, speak your mind.

  3. jonathan says:

    This is awesome. Also, yes, that stuff does remind me of Leah German

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