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Poetry and Medicine
March 15, 2000

Clinic Chart

Author Affiliations

Poetry and Medicine Section Editor: Charlene Breedlove, Associate Editor.

JAMA. 2000;283(11):1392. doi:10.1001/jama.283.11.1392

Log of your snifflings,
Manilla memoir of athletic misadventure,
Ship's journal of travel immunizations,
English novel in which our hapless protagonist,
Yourself, triumphs over the villainy of allergic rhinitis.
The plastic tabs of life stick out,
Conveniently, so as to divide you
Into drug lists, labs, x-rays,
The lofty literature of consultants,
And, most optimistically, the progress notes,
That periodical of a vagabond physique,
Minutes to a lifelong meeting.
Accounts from hemorrhoids to heart disease
Are published in this confidential press.
No scandal sheet or junk tabloid,
It reads like war correspondence,
You covering the grenade with your helmet,
I tapping code over wires.
Chronicle of your constitution.
The chapter on cholecystitis,
The fiction of your heart's flutterings,
The subplot of dyspepsia,
The suspense of "hot eyeballs,"
The epiphany of Lyme disease phobia,
The denouement of reactive depression.
Minor characters accompany you
Or wait demurely in my lobby,
Thumbing the worthless teen gazettes,
While the real literature,
That perfect art reflecting life,
Those immodest scribblings,
Address the unsolved mysteries:
Your insomnia and
That metal taste in your mouth.
So here I am again today,
Your steadfast scrivener, your biased biographer,
Pen in hand and a white cloud
Dallying in the window at my back,
Ready for another entry,
The latest peregrinations of my hero.