fostering the humanistic practice of medicine publishing personal accounts of illness and healing encouraging health care advocacy

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fostering the humanistic practice of medicine publishing personal accounts of illness and healing encouraging health care advocacy

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March 2011


Howard Stein

I have read volumes,
Written volumes,
Taught from volumes.
Now my words are fewer,
More long breaths between them.
I look up after committing
A single phrase to paper,
Linger a while,
Note the long shadows
On blackjack oak
In the late afternoon sun.
At times, I give up
Words altogether, listen
To the wind, watch
The winter wheat grow, savor
The taste of silence,
And give myself over 
To the speech of the stars.

About the poet:

A psychoanalytic and medical anthropologist, Howard Stein is a professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City, where he has taught for thirty-three years. A poet as well as a researcher and scholar, he has published six books of poetry, including Seeing Rightly with the Heart, published in late 2010 by Finishing Line Press. In 2006 he was nominated for Oklahoma Poet Laureate. He is currently working on a book of medically related poems to be titled In the Shadow of Asclepius: Poems from American Medicine.

About the poem:

“A core theme in » Continue Reading.

Diminution Read More »

A Skeptic Stands Corrected

Kyna Rubin

I’m prostrate in a Fujian hospital bed. It’s 1980 China, where I’m on a job interpreting for National Geographic–my first gig after graduate school. Fourteen-hour workdays have worn me down, and I’ve contracted bronchitis.

The clinic doctors are required to treat me with both Western and Chinese medicine, which explains the daily shots of tetracycline in my now bruised thigh and the grainy little brown pills I gamely down with boiled water.

“What’s in them?” I ask.

I think I hear something about deer’s antlers and bear sperm, and I don’t want to know much more. But I recover.

Was it the modern or the traditional treatment that got me better? I never give it a thought.

Fast forward twenty-seven years. I’m living near Washington, DC, and for some time have suffered from life-draining back pain. Physical therapists, orthopedists, physiatrists, osteopaths and chiropractors provide temporary or no relief. I’m told that the problem is a torqued spine–but no one can tell me what’s caused it or how to fix it.

After five years of unfruitful physical, osteopathic and chiropractic therapy sessions costing me

A Skeptic Stands Corrected Read More »


Kenneth P. Gurney

The helmet-less skateboarder
with his head split open
never checked his rearview
for the one-in-a-million chance
gaining on him and all of his 
experience through
six-hundred-thousand plus
ollies, railslides, and mctwists
makes no real difference
as the EMT scribbles the words

organ donor 

on some official looking form
before the ambulance zooms off
toward the hospital.

About the poet:

Kenneth P. Gurney lives in Albuquerque, NM. His poetry appears mostly on the web, as he prefers to spend SASE and reading-fee monies on pumpkin spice cookies for his Dianne. His latest book is An Accident Practiced: Poems by Kenneth P. Gurney. To learn more about Kenneth, visit

About the poem:

“I witnessed the ambulance arrive and went over to find out what was going on. The kid with his head split open lay on the sidewalk. He was a skateboarder of skill, according to his frightened friends. I made up the part about the EMT scribbling ‘organ donor,’ but I had heard ER nurses comment that bicyclists and skateboarders who do not wear helmets are ‘future organ donors.’ The poem’s title reflects that the law of averages catch up to even the best

Averages Read More »

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