Roger Sippl

The Sweater

The doctors tell me the main tumor
in my chest is the size of a softball.
She uses a double strand of yarn

and thin knitting needles so the arms and walls
to cover my chest and back will be thick.
There are more in my bronchial system,

my neck, below my diaphragm, and maybe
in my spleen. The sweater will warm me
even in the wind. She had to do Catholic

Penance, a mother’s labor, she repeats
non-stop clicks with yarn, mostly acrylic,
so it can’t be eaten and

will never decay. She says it is her
fault. She should have stopped me from
sneaking onto that stupid golf course at night, swimming

with mosquitoes, diving the black lake for lost balls
through industrial fertilizer and green dyes, as if
she knows what caused my lymph node cancer

when no one else does. She tries to cure me, feels
my forehead, clicks the needles together again
and again until her fingers hurt and wrists ache

and she can hardly stand up from sitting so long.
So I tell her that leaves on trees blow left
then right, some rattle and flip,

some move hardly at all, yet some are first to fall
to the ground. I tell her the sweater
is coming along great as she watches me lose

weight lying in bed. The needles click as she approaches
another threshold of pain that relieves her.


Roger Sippl studied creative writing at the University of California at Irvine, the University of California at Berkeley (including a class with Thom Gunn) and at Stanford Continuing Studies. He has published poetry in the Ocean State Review and over thirty other literary journals and anthologies. He has also published poetry in JAMA Oncology and CHEST, which are actually medical journals.

While a student at UC Berkeley in the 1970’s, Sippl was diagnosed with Stage IIIB Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, which was treated aggressively with surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy, allowing him to live relapse-free to this day. See more poetry and photos on his website at:

Sippl’s has a book of poetry for sale on Amazon, Heavenly Whispers. He has two other books of poetry coming for sale as well, Real Nature and Bridgehampton.

Sippl is also a software industry pioneer and the founder of Informix Software, one of the first database management system companies. He also co-founded Vantive Software, and founded Visigenic Software. All three of these companies enjoyed public offerings, for which he is forever grateful.