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Poetry and Medicine
January 7, 2004

Ballade for Pancho Villa

Author Affiliations
 

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

JAMA. 2004;291(1):14. doi:10.1001/jama.291.1.14

Don't let it end like this.
Tell them I said something.
—the last words of Pancho Villa (1877-1923)

Don't let it end like this. Tell them
I said something. Like: At last the great
enchantment comes! Or: Don't condemn
my petty wars, or mourn my fate.
I must have said: My sons, at this late
hour, I ask you to embrace and kiss.
I must have had my pain abate.
Tell them. Don't let it end like this.
In my last hour I might have been
a sage. Like: The light! O how the weight
of centuries lifts! Like: The world's stem
is turning brown. Who would sedate
my sharpened wit, or desecrate
my soul's last chance before abyss
to share my heart and make it straight?
Tell them. Don't let it end like this.
My visage flat and drooling phlegm,
I'm almost gone. You must create
my final words. So tell them when
at last my parched mouth spoke . . . Relate
what really happened. Like: The gate
opens, I sense eternal bliss!
Like: Within the light, my soul mate!
Tell them. Don't let it end like this.
My friend, my mind's an empty slate,
but not my heart. Say forgiveness
was my final word. I conquered hate.
Tell them. Don't let it end like this.

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