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Poetry and Medicine
November 15, 2006


Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2006;296(19):2293. doi:10.1001/jama.296.19.2293

The very last words
In that thick Irish brogue
That ever I heard him speak,
Telling me on the telephone
Not to bother coming down for just one more
Operation good lord
He’d been through plenty enough before.
And there was an allusion to those famous lines
Of Dylan Thomas. The ones about
Not going quietly into the night
That talk about raging at the dying light
The way his speech was often peppered
With little literary references
That the people around him usually didn't understand
This white-collar guy with a penchant for Shakespeare
Yeats and J. M. Synge
Though sometimes I did and I’d almost cringe
An embarrassment you know with your friends around
A world of laughter he had all to himself
When nobody else seemed to get the joke.
In the old Ford we stuffed the trunk
Never even thinking to pack something black
He would always be there don't forget
A man rooted as a rock
Drove from the White Mountains down to Connecticut
Without a tire that went flat
Or another spark plug
“Christ did you hear that!”
Blown like a shot from the leaking block!
It wasn't until
Turning into the parking lot
That ever the thought even crossed my mind
What if he’d gone with the night?
What if I’d been left behind?