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Poetry and Medicine
July 9, 2008

Taking charts home after work

Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2008;300(2):146. doi:10.1001/jama.300.2.146

The day work not done: into a big bag go charts
that are overstuffed with cholesterols and heart tracings
and spiking sugars from too much icing, and hearts
gone balloony. Charts snooze in the bag, kershuffle, and sing
of lives awry in diagnosis, askew in drug, kerplunk in grief.
I take the bag as homework, heavy in hand, and think
the more you love, the more you lose. And loss isn't brief.
I write long notes as life's abbreviations. Kerchink
goes the mechanism of my own care, too brief,
and I wonder what the chief lesson is, and who is chief,
what I can find that is not divine, if there is a link
between that satellite metastases and that reef
hung like a noose over falling in love, and these charts
are testaments, manifestoes, omnibuses of broken hearts.

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