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Poetry and Medicine
October 8, 2003

At the Bald Men's Convention

Author Affiliations
 

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

JAMA. 2003;290(14):1827. doi:10.1001/jama.290.14.1827

Weeks after chemo, I stop by
as a guest. Just browsing, I bow,
not certain I'll be back.
Smoke fills the room, rings
wobbling over brows like laurels.
Doctors swear my slick, bald pate
won't last, like a lick-and-stick
tattoo in school. So I feel
out of place, back in sixth grade,
touch-football locker rooms
with other hairless boys.
Most chrome domes here are bald
and proud of it, biting black cigars.
They strut as if they've traded hair
for wealth. Backs of most scalps
wrinkle down like icing
sagging on hot, lopsided cakes.
My eyes bounce off bald heads,
wondering Did a razor blade do that,
your mama's DNA, or chemo
like mine? I'm rubbing my skull,
feeling skin for stubble
like checking for signs from the coach
when I stood safe on third
and the next batter was up—
Is it bunt, steal home,
be ready for a sacrifice?

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