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Poetry and Medicine
November 7, 2012


Author Affiliations

Poetry and Medicine Section Editor: Charlene Breedlove, Associate Editor. Poems may be submitted to

Author Affiliation: Ross, California (

JAMA. 2012;308(17):1720. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.13646

The heart is a fat, titanium Rolex
set to pace each silver second, or
the heart is a filigreed jewel box
that oscillates the light, or
the heart is a thick lump of flesh,
pierced numb by time, or
the heart is one of its arteries,
clogged like a slugged plow, or
the heart is a ladder of flooded locks
whose valves have let go, or
the heart is a lean engine
that roars and races like a Bugatti V8
till it blows, then becomes
an external pump
you drag like a vacuum
from room to tethered room. Or
the heart is less any of these things
than the hot current stream
that makes them hum. Their source
—what powers the pulse—
that, like a small lighthouse,
sometimes winks  yesyesyes
in a corner of this dark screen.

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