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Poetry and Medicine
December 13, 2000

Levels of Pain

Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2000;284(22):2843. doi:10.1001/jama.284.22.2843

sometimes it is deep in the shoulder when the
rotator cuff meets the day I fell off the hayrick;
sometimes it performs a slow wiggle at the
elbow, soon after the other team's pitcher fast-
balls my side;
now and then it is a slow burn in the knee,
remembering a track field in high school,
winning too often;
or a needle's stab beneath the watch where
veins stand out like piping on a uniform.
Give me a pill for all these impacts,
nostrums for the ebbing systems
falling down on the job,
tools with which to wall
the rushing phalanxes of pain.