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Poetry and Medicine
November 26, 2014


Author Affiliations
  • 1Texas A & M University, College Station

Copyright 2014 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.

JAMA. 2014;312(20):2170. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.8624

When they die at first the souls
don’t know each other or themselves.
(It took half an hour to revive me).
They’re out of sorts in Charon’s boat
or whatever conveyance comes to them
like some collective thought. For where
they wake is talk—nothing but talk
out of slit throats or great head wounds
(it took half an hour to revive me)—
talk like a djinn smoking up from the body—
talk boiled down thick as syrup
for the sour mouths of demons.
But I, speechless, awoke, head cracked
from being knocked into the afterlife
to be a peeping Tom at hell’s keyhole
and laughing stock among the demons.
(It took half an hour to revive me).

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