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Poetry and Medicine
June 21, 2006


JAMA. 2006;295(23):2700. doi:10.1001/jama.295.23.2700

Hovering in the normal range
for nearly a year on Paxil,
plumped up, but hardly about
to complain, except for the jazz
of sex, a sense so muted now
and on the curvy side, instead
of spiked. On driving the streets
of the city, the gears I used to
spit stay put, and I don't sputter,
“Son of a bitch!” by rote. My wife
confessed she’d cringed in her bones
when I used to be erratic
and slip into a silent funk.
Now, no more of that—except
after dinner I doze on the sofa
like an undershirt man, watching
an hour of Special Victims Unit
instead of self-improvement.
I feel more than ever like myself,
a feeling that can hardly be true
after 60 years of prowling
outside the fence, with the gates
locked, or scarier still, open,
swinging, and I would stand there
paralyzed, afraid to step in,
my feet starved for affection
and serotonin shooting itself
in the foot each time a foot perked up
and started to dance. But that can
hardly be true, the way I feel today,
so vividly myself, so grounded,
you might say the first draft is done.
I’m in the process of revision.

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