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Poetry and Medicine
April 11, 2001

The sibyl

Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2001;285(14):1814. doi:10.1001/jama.285.14.1814

Besmogged and emphysemic, our unicorns
die coughing. This week's celebrity criminal
lived with serpents in his crib but wasn't
Hercules and couldn't laugh and kill them
and didn't escape from a one-eyed father's cave
to flaunt like Ulysses the trickster's feathers.
Instead, in self-defense he mimicked, then
became himself the monster, blind as a gunsight.
The dark and twisted trees that used to menace
from beyond the walls have grown inside the children.
Our wizards' bright vials of herbicide misfired
and killed instead the last few demigods.
The night's no longer resonant with owls;
the moon's forgotten as television howls.