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Poetry and Medicine
November 8, 2006

Because My Head Hurts

Author Affiliations

Poetry and Medicine Section Editor: Charlene Breedlove, Associate Editor. Poems may be submitted to jamapoems@jama-archives.org.

JAMA. 2006;296(18):2180. doi:10.1001/jama.296.18.2180

I can't think clearly, mix up the trills
and lilts of children in the nursery school
across the road with the shouts of redbirds
playing in the trees—
Because my head hurts,
the basket of fuchsias hanging
on the porch looks like a constellation
of violent stars, exploding darts of pain.
Because my head hurts,
the soft wet wind
that's lifting the leaves of the linden tree
in a green and graceful dance
burns like a sandstorm
on my neck and arms.
Off in the distance, someone is hammering,
hammering. The blood in my head responds
to the throbbing syncopation, wants to dance
along to its murderous beat.