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Poetry and Medicine
February 27, 2008


Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2008;299(8):878. doi:10.1001/jama.299.8.878

The heart near perishes in the chambers of the blood
that set it free to beat minute by minute:
little miracle of valve and flap and in gravity the circled flood
of backwards blood again, and the heady rein and bit
that harness auricle to auricle. Ecstatic
static, the electricity switches on
the stubborn tics the body stutters on. Knife-nicked
the shackled stasis of the fat-marbled meat hung on
the butcher's hook: once the blood
ran its sprints and marathons to no ribboned
finish line. The heart lives in the corridors of the blood
where dutiful it feeds the sudden-summoned
vein. In those sounded veins the hollow echoes
of a chambered hall where sits Cerberus eyeing all of hell in vertigo.