Matters of Blood                                                               by Antonio Vallone

For cheating death twice,
Sisyphus was punished
by Zeus, king of Greek gods,
with the arduous, inhuman task
of rolling a boulder
up a steep hillside in Hades.
 
At the hill’s crest, the boulder 
slipped and rolled down
all the way back to the bottom
for Sisyphus to begin again--
eternally.  We may believe
this story’s only a myth,
 
but we all have our own Sisyphean tasks
never to be completed.
I have dialysis: four hours a session,
three sessions a week, 52 weeks a year,
every year for the rest of my life.
 
At dialysis, angelic beings wear translucent gowns
over multi-colored scrubs, paper masks 
over noses and mouths, clear face shields,
to fly around this earthly afterlife, summoned 
by machines’ beeps, human groans, 
attending to matters of blood.

Antonio Vallone, associate professor of English at Penn State DuBois, founder of MAMMOTH books,  poetry editor of Pennsylvania English, co-founding editor of The Watershed Journal Literary Group. Published collections: The Blackbird’s Applause, Grass Saxophones, Golden Carp, and Chinese Bats. Forthcoming: American Zen, Blackberry Alleys: Collected Poems and Prose. In progress: The Death of Nostalgia.

Guest Editor Lori Martin is associate professor of English at Pittsburg State University. She’s had both poetry and fiction published in magazines like Prick of the Spindle, The MacGuffin, (parenthetical), Room Magazine, Grass Limb, The Knicknackery, The Maine Review and upcoming in The Tampa Review.  Martin is poetry editor for The Midwest Quarterly.

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