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Poetry and Medicine
May 21, 2014

Ruminations of a Gastroenterologist

Author Affiliations
  • 1Brookline, Massachusetts

Copyright 2014 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.

JAMA. 2014;311(19):2025. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.285645

They succumb to spell of midazolam
as I charm the plastic snake,
and my fiberoptic third eye begins its ascent
winding in search of nature’s mistakes.
I am a spelunker scaling
slick walls, guano speckled, dripping
in synthetic light.
And it makes no difference whether
priest, politician, poet, or plumber—
all are equal in the visceral
with its yearnings, its pangs, its fire
in revolution and evolution—
everything declares itself
liquid or solid,
and the body claims its plunder,
conspiring to survive, no ideology to bind or blind.
So let me rest awhile in the seat of your soul,
recline near lakes of bile rippled
by thunder of borborygmi,
lose myself in these enclaves, to escape
the pigeonholes of society. And when I fail
to emerge, they will search, lanterns ablaze
for that child last seen playing
near the mouth of a cave,
uncertain whether they should defy
the signs warning enter at your own risk.

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