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Poetry and Medicine
August 15, 2012


Author Affiliations

Poetry and Medicine Section Editor: Charlene Breedlove, Associate Editor. Poems may be submitted to jamapoems@jamanetwork.org.

Author Affiliation: Medical Faculty Associates, George Washington University, Washington, DC (apossner@mfa.gwu.edu).

JAMA. 2012;308(7):651. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.3623

I know what it's like
to serve time under
a sentence without
possibility of parole.
To be given a diagnosis
by a man in a white
coat sitting high and
mighty on his stool.
No empathy in the
sentencing, just
You have broken the law
of normal, you have
such-and-such disease.
Period. A sentence
and nothing more. No
semicolon. No dash.
Would it kill him
to be a bit more open-
ended, to say I'm sorry,
to touch my hand?