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Poetry and Medicine
December 4, 2018

Low-Dose Opioid Hyperalgesia

Author Affiliations
  • 1Newcastle, Washington
JAMA. 2018;320(21):2274. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.11161

They gave me pills for pain
and I took them for my memories,
knowing this taking
carried warnings of dependence.
I became the drug of sleep
slowly, Hypnos a mask to cover
amnesia. Afraid to wake
too much I watched birds slip
from trees, heard wind and water
narrow the spaces. Between proverbs
the sun came and went. At times
the moon sprouted like an eye
in the backyard—sinister,
unyielding, veiled by wisps of cloud.

They gave and I took for twenty years
what turned me into this churl
who lives close to the ground.
Instead of fresh blood, my veins
fill with grubs and maggots,
those I recognize as kin
to twinned states of jealousy
and servitude. The little power
I wield comes from restraint.
My drum's grown hollow
as a chimney the woodpecker
hammers in spring.

Section Editor: Charlene Breedlove, Associate Editor.
Submissions: Poems may be submitted to jamapoems@jamanetwork.org.
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Article Information

Corresponding Author: Judith Skillman (judith.skillman@comcast.net).

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