there is something i must tell you

Michael Fallon

is a Senior Lecturer Emeritus in the English Department at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County where he taught a huge variety of writing courses, Creative Writing, and Literature for thirty-five years.

His poems have appeared recently in Northeast Narrative, Crosswinds Poetry Journal, The Connecticut River Review, The Loch Raven Review, Illuminations, Southword, and other magazines.

He is the author of 4 collections of poetry, A History of the Color Black, Since You Have No Body (winner of the Plan B Press Poetry Chapbook Competition, 2011), The Great Before and After, and Empire of Leaves.

Essays have appeared recently in The New England Review, on lit hub-The Best of the Literary Internet, The Concho River Review, Broad Street Literary Review, The Razor, The Northern Virginia Review, and Blood and Thunder.

His innermost ear is turned always to what the Irish call “the music of what happens.”

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Memoir

There is Something I Must Tell You

written by Micahel Fallon

When Michael Fallon was diagnosed with stage four cancer of the throat, he burst into tears and wondered how he could possibly tell his wife the devastating news. This was followed by uncomprehending rage, and radiation treatments in the belly of a massive, whirring machine that focused a beam of invisible light on his tumor.

Yet he wanted to save something of value from what was happening to him, to meditate on the things that gave me the courage to endure the pain and fear, and to share inspiration with others who must face and endure challenges of their own.

This memoir combines two stories from his essay collection, There is Something I Must Tell You. The essays narrate and reflect on his diagnosis, treatment, and recovery from stage four cancer of the throat. Part I of this story is also titled There Is Something I Must tell You; part II is titled, The Mask and the Green Dragon.

The Mask and the Green Dragon was first published in The Northern Virginia Review, Spring 2019.

© 2019 Michael Fallon | Recording © 2020 Rivercliff Books & Media. All rights reserved.

Read by Milton Bagby

“Sometime during the day or night, many months before I was aware of it, I was changed forever. One cell in the lining of my throat, very near my vocal cords, had decided to begin replicating itself, soon outpacing the healthy cells around it, and I was divided against myself”

“Before I could even think, I burst into tears and wondered aloud how I would possibly tell my wife I had cancer in my throat. She would be totally blindsided. She had no idea any disaster like this was coming.”

“In that period of my life—when I wasn’t sure if I would survive and everything that was supposed to save me looked like disaster in another shape—I felt much like a ship set ablaze and left to drift. On what precarious shore would it run aground?”

“In those weeks before we had the results of the biopsy, the scan, and the diagnosis—I wondered if the life I had imagined for myself was at all possible? Was it altered? Destroyed? Was the future I dreamed of just a pale mirage on the horizon?”

Q&A with Michael

Tell us about your story...

What sustains us when we must face suffering and death?

When I went through the experience of being diagnosed and treated for cancer, I wanted to save something of value from what was happening to me, to meditate on the things that gave me the courage to endure the pain and the fear, and hopefully, to find something of lasting value for others who must face and endure cancer and the struggle to recover from it.

What was the inspiration for this story?

My doctors, nurses, social workers, and therapists; my wife, family, and friends, all those who saved me and gave me the courage to endure. My long experience as a lover of literature and poetry, which has taught me to find the beautiful in “the music of what happens.”

What have you recently read that you loved?

I really enjoyed Madeline Miller’s Song of Achilles. It is beautifully written. On every page, her sentences and metaphors are a joy to read, and it is a well-told story.

Someday I want to...

See the ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?

I love a good walk and a good glass of wine, but not at the same time.

Do you have any hidden talents?

You can’t see it when you look at me, but I like to cook. I love to make something good to eat for my wife, my family, and my friends to enjoy.

On the weekends I like to...

Walk, preferably in the woods or on the beach, cook a lovely meal, drink some wine, and read some poetry out loud.

Tomorrow I absolutely refuse to...

Be entirely serious.

Heard any good jokes lately?

How about a song:

The optimist fell ten stories, at each window jar, he shouted to his friends, “All right so far!”

Anything else you'd like to share?

Don’t forget to cross your Is and dot your Ts !

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