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Poetry and Medicine
October 28, 2009

Case History

Author Affiliations

Poetry and Medicine Section Editor: Charlene Breedlove, Associate Editor. Poems may be submitted to jamapoems@jama-archives.org.

JAMA. 2009;302(16):1737. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.1370

For years the rash on his hip
bloomed and faded on its own,
until his doctor insisted
on taking a bite—mycosis
fungoides. What a wicked sound!
Fungoides! He envisioned
grainy ledges heaped with
toadstools. Path proclaimed it
the first, and usually only,
stage—lymphocytes pawing
the skin, but hanging
on the cusp between order
and mayhem. The doctor,
afraid to take a chance
on time, rammed a Mack truck
at him, insisted on a blitz
of chemo and radiation.
But Frank went holistic—
vitamins, Colombian
coffee enemas each morning,
oil baths, an extensive
liver flush on Tuesdays,
yoga, and a dietary
ledger. It's made a world
of difference to Frank,
who's discovered a vision
of potency. The patch
of mycosis has never
gotten worse or better,
but Frank's a new man
and rejects my request
for symptoms, Check my ears
and prostate, he tells me,
but not with your finger.

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