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Poetry and Medicine
July 1, 1998

An Afterlife in Reno

Author Affiliations

Edited by Charlene Breedlove, Associate Editor

JAMA. 1998;280(1):88C. doi:10.1001/jama.280.1.88

I try to see my brother walking now
but he remains festooned with tubes, tilted
back as far as the barred bed will allow.
He sleeps, face rippling with tics, the quilted
blanket pulled against his chin, and I know
prayer must travel where my dreams cannot go.
So I try wings, tufted carpet of cloud,
a halo to help with lift, shouldered harp.
Reno would bring his beatific smile.
Keep the lights bright and samba music loud.
Let there be dice, chips stacked head high, the sharp
snap of cards turned by a buxom Gentile
dealer who grants him one long run of luck
before dawn. Allow him to be moonstruck.