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Poetry and Medicine
September 12, 2017

Michael Jackson’s Procedures

Author Affiliations
  • 1Texas A & M University, College Station, Texas
JAMA. 2017;318(10):967. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.4280

The history of stardom
is written on his body
in a language of scalpels
and creams, of bleaches
blended with vitiligo
wrapped in money rolling in
since Thriller rose
through almost every language
like a ubiquitous sonic
Babel: chin of Kirk Douglas,
nose of a comic book
elf, cheekbones of
Audrey Hepburn, wigs
of Bombay women’s hair,
hairline of black ink,
voice of a child no one
could fail to smile at—yes,
the color line caged
in one procedure after
another, but somehow
getting out each time,
and the self, with its famous
business sense, struggling
to slip out of the gene pool
and make a new body
out of tongue clicks and
stop time spins, out of vaults
onto car roofs, legato
runs into octave leaps,
the seed of Elvis, and fatherhood
and the rights of fame.

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