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Poetry and Medicine
December 5, 2001

Taking the Keys Away

Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2001;286(21):2642. doi:10.1001/jama.286.21.2642

Daddy at the wheel is dangerous,
we finally had to admit—Daddy,
who drove tanks for Patton,
directed fire at steel,
at walls a thousand years old,
at trucks with a dozen boys.
Now, for the fourth time,
he straddled a curb, backing up
almost over a mailman, who leaped aside
in time, with his hands out,
watching his pushcart crushed.
What if tomorrow it's a boy on a bike,
a widow walking her dog,
a toddler? How to tell a tank commander
with white hair, Please give us the keys.
How to sit down by Father and say,
You're grounded! He doesn't lose
the remote control more than once
a program. Calls the dog the wrong name
often, but even the dog
comes gladly, happy for his hand.

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