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Poetry and Medicine
December 6, 2000

Crime of the Heart

Author Affiliations

Poetry and Medicine Section Editor: Charlene Breedlove, Associate Editor.

JAMA. 2000;284(21):2689. doi:10.1001/jama.284.21.2689

The man in bed is mute,
blank-eyed. Dropped to the floor
on the bus like a KO'd boxer,
deaf to the sirens on arrival.
Friend says he's fifty-six,
three packs a day, ten beers.
A mechanic up to his knees
in grease. Heart's reckless pause,
capriciously beating again,
white tunnel unseen by the wires
that question his chest.
His fingertips wear eyes,
grope air, scouting my face.
His birth year is mine, fist
blossoms in my chest, taunting,
this could happen to you.
Finicky engine that links
body to mind, sputtering like
the monitor's thin line.
It could happen today, easy
as children playing ring-around-a-rosy.
Tiny flutter in the chest,
husha, husha, on the fall down.

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