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Poetry and Medicine
May 19, 2010


Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2010;303(19):1893. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.446

Remember childhood nights in bed. The dark.
No grownup near you. Creeping shadows.
Your Telltale Heart. Monsters snoring like howler
monkeys alongside your unfinished arithmetic
homework. Remember the nighttime groan
of the stairs. The stars hidden by storm clouds
flashing heat lightning. The count to thunder.
When I said the main task in life is dealing
with uncertainty, you said you disagreed,
but you don't know if you’ll keep your job
or if she’ll marry you, or what the biopsy
will show, so in a way, you know what I meant.
You dream about the monster doctor,
the zombie banks, the still unfinished arithmetic,
your childhood classroom appended to your
apartment and wicked unknown specters
of 9-11, hurricanes, shame, or fame.
You’ll never know for sure what's next.
Standing it. That's the task I mean.

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