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Poetry and Medicine
March 10, 1999


Author Affiliations

Edited by Charlene Breedlove, Associate Editor.

JAMA. 1999;281(10):874B. doi:10.1001/jama.281.10.874

Bodies are embarrassing, sci-Freud,
all orifice, tentacle and slime.
We try to bundle them in haute couture,
the alibi, disingenue, of mind
but there's always something left to rat us out—
hair in the comb, toenailclippings, pus,
a countertop aseethe with DNA,
sophisticated spoor, shorthand for us.
We're spirit, we insist. We're noumenal.
Blackjacks spritz our lofty skulls with stars.
But when we wake we're back where we belong:
mug shot, booked, embarrassed. Behind bars.