Patricia Carragon's Reviews > The Carcinogenic Bride

The Carcinogenic Bride by Cindy Hochman
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Jan 12, 12

Read in October, 2011


Clear the aisles! Here comes The Carcinogenic Bride by Cindy Hochman from Poetry Thin Air Press (2011). No fanfare or organ music to accompany Ms. Hochman’s 22 poems. Band-aids and surgical gloves need not apply. Cindy’s poems are not bouquets of shrinking violets. They stand alone, cultivated by her brand of Brooklyn sensibility and wit.

Unlike my signature piece, The Bride Wore Black, which is my vow to singlehood, Cindy walked down a different aisle and emerged a survivor. She survived the trenches of marriage, divorce, and cancer. Her book is her license to life.

Yet she doesn’t walk alone. Many women have walked down that same aisle. They are the warrior women who have battled with spouses or danced with the “Big C”. They are the women who could relate most to Ms. Hochman’s stories and learn to laugh at life.

Before the Table of Contents is Ms. Hochman’s first poem Self-Portrait in a Concave Knife. Here, Cindy the bride introduces herself with snippets of bittersweet humor and quirky political stabs. Her playful use of puns and unconventional rhymes could wrestle with Ogden Nash’s. Like slices from a wedding cake that fell off the table, Cindy royally offers herself to her guests who read her poetry. She must have taken advice from Ella Wheeler Wilcox: Laugh, and the world laughs with you: Weep, and you weep alone. For the sad old earth must borrow its mirth, But has trouble enough of its own . . .


And Cindy writes:

Here comes the carcinogenic bride!
Here comes the survivor-in-chief . . .
There goes my stale mate
We once lived in an altared state . . .
Here is love in fission
body in remission, missionary position
Here is my inner elf,
my quirky self, my non-existent wealth,
in sickness and in health . . .
Here is the lion’s share, my blonde hair, my thin air, my
health care
Ass-kisser, go-getter, phone dodger, night-blogger, flip-flopper,
vow-breaker . . .
Here is my oil can
Here is my Yes, We Can! . . .
Here is my picket sign, my witty line, my glass of wine (or two . . .)
Here is what I’ve held in escrow:
my pens, my posse, my potbelly
my strokes and daggers
Here is my handle
Here is my spout
my gamin face, my apocalyptal pout
cranky bitch with perfect pitch . . .
Here’s to my every OY, my utter JOY
There’s my life through a poetic prism
(or maybe just my narcissism)


In Part I, appropriately labeled Love is a Many-Splintered Thing . . . a take-off on the 1955 movie and theme-song, Love is a Many-Splendored Thing, Ms. Hochman dissects the subjects of love, marriage, and divorce. Cindy, a sister member of Brevitas, a bi-monthly Internet group devoted to writing poems 14 lines or less, has mastered the art of the short poem. I couldn’t stop laughing while reading about “oracle sex” in Mythological Porno Poem, pressing “DELETE” to get rid of a bad date in Love in the Computer Age, and getting a taste of Dorothy Parker in Why Chemistry 101 is Bad for my Love Life (ode to Dorothy Parker).

Cindy’s wit is non-stop and gathers speed as you turn the pages. In A Partial View of a Six-Month Marriage, she tells her story in 13 lines, casting a triskaidekaphobia-like spell as you read about her failed marriage.


Tongues & thresholds. The lovesick groom carries the
homesick bride to the smell of Cajun spice, the sound
of Caribbean drums . . . . There’s a lizard in my kitchen
and dust in my coffee. The fireplace forecasts our future:
paper, ash, disaster . . . . Next morning we talk over
strangled eggs & bacon. El Niño wets the bed,
predicts more storm.


She ends Part I with her hilarious divorce poem Love and Medicine. Ironically, this poem is the perfect marriage between a medical dictionary and bad love. Imagine going around in “cervicals” after quarreling at the “Isle of the Langerhans”. (Not for nothing, but I would have “jumped ship” before reaching the “Phalanges”.)


Cindy, a nice Jewish Girl, asks:

Is there a doctor in this house?
(Turn your head and kiss me)
Is there a lawyer in this house?
(Turn your head and divorce me)

Her puns and jabs are facetious, but her poem was meant to be “humerus”. She can’t “fibula” when she is.


In Part II, Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair Fuzzy Wuzzy must have been on chemo . . ., Ms. Hochman bravely relives the trauma of breast cancer, injecting drams of wit. She takes you through the triple-shock of biopsy, surgery, and chemo.

In Scars From a Biopsy of the Breast, Cindy bites back at the chesty technician checking her out for cancer with her dry comment, Want one for Christmas?

Cindy refuses to give in to tragedy and laughs at herself in Snippets.


I had to banish all the “C” words from my thesaurus – no more Coughing,
Catastrophes or Coffins – here, take my C-name.

From Magna Cum Laude to San Marco to Chemo
this sure has been an oblong year or maybe we
should just call it a slightly pregnant pause. And
suddenly all the vials of my youth have come home
to roost in mega-doses. Life is obviously not a bowl
of Viagra and we don’t accept simultaneous emissions.


And she jokingly reminds us about journals who quibble over simultaneous submissions.
(Or “emissions”, as she puts it.)


Ms. Hochman’s most poignant piece, Under Anesthesia, was written after her surgery, during which she had to undergo numerous “surgeries” to reach perfection. And yes, indeed, God mends all His drunken children.


And then the rich & handsome Prince and his merry band
in scrubs kissed Sleeping Beauty and she woke up and
went to work that very afternoon . . . ,
with a plastic nipple from K-Mart, some
Lenox (Hill) china, and a lifetime warranty. You don’t have
to be Jesus these days to be raised from the dead (as long
as you have GHI, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Medicaid or,
in my case, Oxford).


The Carcinogenic Bride IS Cindy Hochman. She has lived to tell the tale. She graduated Magna Cum Laude with degrees in marriage, divorce, and cancer. She is a latter-day Lazarus from Brooklyn who wears mini-skirts, leggings, and a “K-Mart nipple”. Like Ogden Nash, she plays slapstick with her puns and rhymes. Ella Wheeler Wilcox would have been proud of her. Although Cindy might throw wedding cake in your face, I promise she won’t “fibula”.



—Patricia Carragon, author of Urban Haiku and More
curator for The Brownstone Poets, Brooklyn, NY


Patricia Carragon is a New York City writer and poet. Her publications include Best Poem, BigCityLit, CLWN WR, Chantarelle’s Notebook, Clockwise Cat, Danse Macabre, Ditch Poetry, Inertia, Lips, MÖBIUS, The Poetry Magazine, Marymark Press, Maintenant, Mad Hatters’ Review, The Toronto Quarterly, and more. She is the author of Journey to the Center of My Mind (Rogue Scholars Press). She is a member of Brevitas, a group dedicated to short poems. She hosts and curates the Brooklyn-based Brownstone Poets and is the editor of the annual anthology. Her latest book is Urban Haiku and More (Fierce Grace Press, 2010). For more information, please check out her Web sites at http://brownstonepoets.blogspot.com and at http://patriciacarragon8.wordpress.com/.


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Patricia Carragon Clear the aisles! Here comes The Carcinogenic Bride by Cindy Hochman from Poetry Thin Air Press (2011). No fanfare or organ music to accompany Ms. Hochman’s 22 poems. Band-aids and surgical gloves need not apply. Cindy’s poems are not bouquets of shrinking violets. They stand alone, cultivated by her brand of Brooklyn sensibility and wit.

Unlike my signature piece, The Bride Wore Black, which is my vow to singlehood, Cindy walked down a different aisle and emerged a survivor. She survived the trenches of marriage, divorce, and cancer. Her book is her license to life.

Yet she doesn’t walk alone. Many women have walked down that same aisle. They are the warrior women who have battled with spouses or danced with the “Big C”. They are the women who could relate most to Ms. Hochman’s stories and learn to laugh at life.

Before the Table of Contents is Ms. Hochman’s first poem Self-Portrait in a Concave Knife. Here, Cindy the bride introduces herself with snippets of bittersweet humor and quirky political stabs. Her playful use of puns and unconventional rhymes could wrestle with Ogden Nash’s. Like slices from a wedding cake that fell off the table, Cindy royally offers herself to her guests who read her poetry. She must have taken advice from Ella Wheeler Wilcox: Laugh, and the world laughs with you: Weep, and you weep alone. For the sad old earth must borrow its mirth, But has trouble enough of its own . . .


And Cindy writes:

Here comes the carcinogenic bride!
Here comes the survivor-in-chief . . .
There goes my stale mate
We once lived in an altared state . . .
Here is love in fission
body in remission, missionary position
Here is my inner elf,
my quirky self, my non-existent wealth,
in sickness and in health . . .
Here is the lion’s share, my blonde hair, my thin air, my
health care
Ass-kisser, go-getter, phone dodger, night-blogger, flip-flopper,
vow-breaker . . .
Here is my oil can
Here is my Yes, We Can! . . .
Here is my picket sign, my witty line, my glass of wine (or two . . .)
Here is what I’ve held in escrow:
my pens, my posse, my potbelly
my strokes and daggers
Here is my handle
Here is my spout
my gamin face, my apocalyptal pout
cranky bitch with perfect pitch . . .
Here’s to my every OY, my utter JOY
There’s my life through a poetic prism
(or maybe just my narcissism)


In Part I, appropriately labeled Love is a Many-Splintered Thing . . . a take-off on the 1955 movie and theme-song, Love is a Many-Splendored Thing, Ms. Hochman dissects the subjects of love, marriage, and divorce. Cindy, a sister member of Brevitas, a bi-monthly Internet group devoted to writing poems 14 lines or less, has mastered the art of the short poem. I couldn’t stop laughing while reading about “oracle sex” in Mythological Porno Poem, pressing “DELETE” to get rid of a bad date in Love in the Computer Age, and getting a taste of Dorothy Parker in Why Chemistry 101 is Bad for my Love Life (ode to Dorothy Parker).

Cindy’s wit is non-stop and gathers speed as you turn the pages. In A Partial View of a Six-Month Marriage, she tells her story in 13 lines, casting a triskaidekaphobia-like spell as you read about her failed marriage.


Tongues & thresholds. The lovesick groom carries the
homesick bride to the smell of Cajun spice, the sound
of Caribbean drums . . . . There’s a lizard in my kitchen
and dust in my coffee. The fireplace forecasts our future:
paper, ash, disaster . . . . Next morning we talk over
strangled eggs & bacon. El Niño wets the bed,
predicts more storm.


She ends Part I with her hilarious divorce poem Love and Medicine. Ironically, this poem is the perfect marriage between a medical dictionary and bad love. Imagine going around in “cervicals” after quarreling at the “Isle of the Langerhans”. (Not for nothing, but I would have “jumped ship” before reaching the “Phalanges”.)


Cindy, a nice Jewish Girl, asks:

Is there a doctor in this house?
(Turn your head and kiss me)
Is there a lawyer in this house?
(Turn your head and divorce me)

Her puns and jabs are facetious, but her poem was meant to be “humerus”. She can’t “fibula” when she is.


In Part II, Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair Fuzzy Wuzzy must have been on chemo . . ., Ms. Hochman bravely relives the trauma of breast cancer, injecting drams of wit. She takes you through the triple-shock of biopsy, surgery, and chemo.

In Scars From a Biopsy of the Breast, Cindy bites back at the chesty technician checking her out for cancer with her dry comment, Want one for Christmas?

Cindy refuses to give in to tragedy and laughs at herself in Snippets.


I had to banish all the “C” words from my thesaurus – no more Coughing,
Catastrophes or Coffins – here, take my C-name.

From Magna Cum Laude to San Marco to Chemo
this sure has been an oblong year or maybe we
should just call it a slightly pregnant pause. And
suddenly all the vials of my youth have come home
to roost in mega-doses. Life is obviously not a bowl
of Viagra and we don’t accept simultaneous emissions.


And she jokingly reminds us about journals who quibble over simultaneous submissions.
(Or “emissions”, as she puts it.)


Ms. Hochman’s most poignant piece, Under Anesthesia, was written after her surgery, during which she had to undergo numerous “surgeries” to reach perfection. And yes, indeed, God mends all His drunken children.


And then the rich & handsome Prince and his merry band
in scrubs kissed Sleeping Beauty and she woke up and
went to work that very afternoon . . . ,
with a plastic nipple from K-Mart, some
Lenox (Hill) china, and a lifetime warranty. You don’t have
to be Jesus these days to be raised from the dead (as long
as you have GHI, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Medicaid or,
in my case, Oxford).


The Carcinogenic Bride IS Cindy Hochman. She has lived to tell the tale. She graduated Magna Cum Laude with degrees in marriage, divorce, and cancer. She is a latter-day Lazarus from Brooklyn who wears mini-skirts, leggings, and a “K-Mart nipple”. Like Ogden Nash, she plays slapstick with her puns and rhymes. Ella Wheeler Wilcox would have been proud of her. Although Cindy might throw wedding cake in your face, I promise she won’t “fibula”.



—Patricia Carragon, author of Urban Haiku and More
curator for The Brownstone Poets, Brooklyn, NY


Patricia Carragon is a New York City writer and poet. Her publications include Best Poem, BigCityLit, CLWN WR, Chantarelle’s Notebook, Clockwise Cat, Danse Macabre, Ditch Poetry, Inertia, Lips, MÖBIUS, The Poetry Magazine, Marymark Press, Maintenant, Mad Hatters’ Review, The Toronto Quarterly, and more. She is the author of Journey to the Center of My Mind (Rogue Scholars Press). She is a member of Brevitas, a group dedicated to short poems. She hosts and curates the Brooklyn-based Brownstone Poets and is the editor of the annual anthology. Her latest book is Urban Haiku and More (Fierce Grace Press, 2010). For more information, please check out her Web sites at http://brownstonepoets.blogspot.com and at http://patriciacarragon8.wordpress.com/.


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