First-prize winner of the Entelechy Biofiction Prize
spring/summer 2006, no. 7
The Neoplastic Surgeon
by Robert Perchan
the phenotype is always problematical.
— Robin Fox
Patient complained, typically enough, that her breasts didn’t quite match. One was more
pointy, the other more rounded, as if they had been modeled on the opposite ends of a
hen’s egg. But this asymmetry — this schizovimammarianism — did not discomfit me. More troubling in its way was the pride she took in her rump halves — as if those perfect mirror images of each other were not kinetically a kaleidoscope of endlessly shifting possibilities. I detect deeper symmetries where others claim to see simply balance or lopsidedness. (Though I confess to wearing a necktie solely to cover up the fact that the buttons on my shirtfront don’t match.) Adorably upholstered women come to me begging to be made more symmetrical — and drag along with them publications of respectable learned and scientific societies to bolster their point: fine symmetry equals greater access to life’s goodies. Did I operate on her? Of course. I’m a professional with a license and mouths to feed and a competent anaesthetist to compensate. While she was under the ether I pulled an old switcheroo and took the brazen liberty of fashioning her buttocks as precisely unlike each other as were her breasts. When she came to I led her naked to a cubicle of mirrors and lava lamps left over from my days as a neoplastic acid guru. In ecstasy over this crafting of a Higher Symmetry, she dashed off a check hefty enough to underwrite my pilgrimage to Capri and the Callipygian Aphrodite. (Betty! I roared as she sashayed out the door. Forever be in the eye of a beholder!) But the tensions between the demands of the marketplace and my need to express my aesthetic sensibilities are a constant source of anguish. And each case is subtly different. Each solution a work of Art and a con job of clandestine reciprocities.<
About theEntelechy Biofiction Prize.
Robert Perchan was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and grew up there. Educated after a fashion at Duke and Ohio Universities, he taught for the U.S. Navy’s Program for Afloat College Education (PACE) on ships deployed in Rota, Spain, the Mediterranean Sea and the Western Pacific Ocean before moving, in his words, “onward and awkward.” His poems, stories and essays have appeared in scores of literary journals in the USA and abroad and a number of them have been included in anthologies published by Dell, Black Sparrow, City Lights and Global City Press. In 1991 Watermark Press (Wichita) brought out his prose poem novella Perchan’s Chorea: Eros and Exile, which was translated into French and published by Quidam Editeur (Meudon) in 2002. His poetry collection Fluid in Darkness, Frozen in Light won the 1999 Pearl Poetry Prize and was published in book form in 2000. Most recently his poetry chapbooks Mythic Instinct Afternoon and Overdressed to Kill won the 2005 Poetry West Chapbook Prize (Poetry West, Colorado Springs) and the 2005 Weldon Kees Award (Backwaters Press, Omaha) respectively. He currently resides in Pusan, South Korea. Bob's poem, "Late Blooming" appeared in Entelechy's issue 6.
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