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Poetry and Medicine
May 17, 2000

The Neurology Professor Retires

Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2000;283(19):2499. doi:10.1001/jama.283.19.2499

Dies Without Issue.
Decessit sine prole,
if you like a gravedigger's Latin.
Well, I've been childless in the flesh
these fifty semesters,
but have fathered rich earth
in you, my bean-pole brood,
my classroom seedlings.
Died without issue?
"Raise up many disciples"
the Talmud says,
and if smart-asses count,
I've done that—watched you walk
into the blighted world
with tricks I taught you,
words I thought wise—
and how to tell Kernig's
From Brudzinski's sign.
Dies without issue?
My God, I've propagated
like an over-ripe seedpod
torn apart—and sent the world
a thousand children
armed with reflex hammers
and soldier's heart.