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Books, Journals, New Media
May 7, 2003


Author Affiliations

Books, Journals, New Media Section Editor: Harriet S. Meyer, MD, Contributing Editor, JAMA; David H. Morse, MS, University of Southern California, Norris Medical Library, Journal Review Editor.

JAMA. 2003;289(17):2287-2288. doi:10.1001/jama.289.17.2287

The medicine stone that gives the title to Jack Coulehan's latest book appears in two of its poems. In "Medicine Stone," Coulehan carries a stone that has been blessed at Wounded Knee into his hospital, where "[o]nly the voices of suffering live." Although the stone seems "of no account," it "is an aspect of soul that lasts." In "Lima Bean," the poet carries a lima bean from "Holy Week, a year ago." An artifact of another ceremony of renewal, the bean's curve is pleasant to touch, like "probing a deep pocket [in which] something still is carried forward." "Still," which is actually used twice in this short poem, carries the meanings of both calm and perseverance. These two poems, one borrowing the solemn cadence of American Indian song and the other taking its own solemnity from Coulehan's spare, lyrical verse, offer community and comfort in the midst of a world that often seems bereft of both.