Poetry & Medicine – The Poetry

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Featured Poetry

Rafael Campo -

Lucille Clifton -

John Fox -

John Graham-Pole -

Donald Hall -

Stanley Kunitz -

Robert Lawrence -

Mike Okun -

Alicia Ostriker -

John Stone -

David Watts -



Skin Deep

Covering, stretching
simultaneously separating
            and connecting
True depth impenetrable.
Too thick or too thin
varies with the response
to a given situation.
How touching or
untouchable; it just depends.
Casually, roughly, tenderly,
knowingly, coolly, sensually.
Expansile and contracting from
moment to moment
paling, flushing, blue, yellow
                        or tan.
Amazingly adaptable, malleable
still, unfathomable
and unappreciated
Subtly, vicious vapors envelop
empty clicks, to the ignition of
            a greedy flash of flame
                        and Whoooof!!!
Drowned with heat;
lost in smoke, acrid
with the singe of hair,…
all is changed.
The primary function is now,
All other sensations or functions
are disrupted and confused.
The depth of the pain inexhaustible,
the feelings indescribable,
the pulse of it un-abating;
Pain Rules.
Images smash through;
flame red searing heat,
gray fearsome scars
and crushing blackness.
The senses report cataclysmic changes
from burning to icy and back again,
of shouts and whispers in the same sentence and
the invasion of vibrating ants with needles.
Yet, amidst the cacophony of distorted senses,
and drug induced stupor
there is an unreal sense of self
and the will that maintains it.
With confusion of Babylonian proportions,
and the many medical machinations;
faith and hope stand upright before heaven
and earth.
Despite the ever present pain
and mind-numbing fear;
there is a remembrance of strength and bravery,
that has battled darkness before.
All these,
self and will, faith and
hope, strength and bravery
come through from somewhere deep inside.
They rise phoenix-like
with each steady, mindful breath
filling lungs and mind, touching nerves
and even skin.
There it begins.
A different path,
not easily chosen.
but the only one, back to health.
To a new health,
filled with life and breathing;
hopefully, cautiously, bravely pursued.
A health, so much more, than skin deep.


Pediatrician who listens for poetry
in his patient’s (hi)story

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