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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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April 2015


Albert Howard Carter III

(for NCC and RAC)

My wife lies in the little room,
tight as a drum, and even more convex.
She breathes hard as the contractions come.
The doctor, some 20 feet away,
shares his lunch with me,
the husband and coach;
My wife, lunchless today,
hears this act of betrayal
and resents (I learn later)
that we are eating cake:
she’s clearly in “transition,”
when even the nicest women
can become cranky.

Groans and wails fill the hall;
The place sounds like a zoo.

Birth Read More »

Last Writes

Hilton Koppe

Jeez mate, you are really dead. “Really fucking dead,” as you would say. I don’t need to be a doctor to know that. The cop who rang me was right. You must have been sitting in your lounge chair, dead, for at least twelve hours, maybe more. Looks like you were enjoying a quiet drink when you checked out.

I’ve got to tell you mate, it’s pretty weird sitting here at your dining table, with you there, slumped over all mottled and cold, while I’m trying to fill out your death certificate. With your advance-care directive staring at me from on top of all your papers on the table. Was it left there as a gift for me? I did feel a little better when I read that you wanted to be allowed to die a natural death. That you didn’t want any more medical interventions (God knows, you’d had enough of those already). That you wanted to die in your home.

Was it the chemo that knocked you off in the end? That’s what I want to believe. Because if it wasn’t that, then it might have been the high potassium level in your

Last Writes Read More »

Jerry Stockton



Jonathan Stockton

About the contributor: 

Jonathan is completing his MFA in photography at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. He photographs in areas where communities form around addiction and documents how these communities change over time. His thesis show will be on view May 11-23 at MassArt’s Bakalar Gallery in Boston, MA. His work can be found at

About the artwork:

“I met Jerry (not his real name) as he drank tall boys [24-ounce cans of beer] on a warm autumn day along the Connecticut River, just downstream from a spot where many addicts get high. Jerry reminded me that I had to be careful in ‘these parts,’ and that he would see that I made it back up the embankement safely. But he had to finish his beers first. The next time I saw him, he had been sober for nearly two months. He said that just before Christmas, the police had found him in

Untitled Read More »

How Will I Know You’re Not Dead?

Raymond Abbott

I never thought it would go on for so long–seeing Donald Wyatt, I mean. I certainly didn’t plan it this way.

More than six years ago, I retired at age sixty-six from my social-work job at a mental-health agency. Donald had been my client there for about eight years.

As I was cleaning out my office, his mother called. She explained how Donald’s father had left when Donald was not much more than an infant, which had made him sensitive to abandonment, especially by male figures. Could I, she wondered, meet Donald once in awhile for coffee or lunch?

“Yes,” I said, “I can do that.”

How Will I Know You’re Not Dead? Read More »


Martin Kohn

(for Helen)

This openness into
This brightness onto
This bodied and

This close
and blinking
This shutter stop

Your round soft
shoulder pillowed
beneath a feeble
The Lord
“not quite ready”
to take you
even though you
and Trixie your cat
had walked the dark path
to him again

Aperture Read More »

banana peel blum

Banana Peel

Alan Blum

About the artist: 

Alan Blum is a professor and Gerald Leon Wallace MD Endowed Chair in family medicine at the University of Alabama School of Medicine in Tuscaloosa. A self-taught artist, he has published three books of his sketches and stories of patients, and his artworks have appeared in more than a dozen medical journals and textbooks. He is a frequent guest speaker at medical schools in courses in the humanities.

About the artwork:

“Slip on a banana peelin’ —
They gave me these crutches.
Said I had to use ’em.
I don’t know why.
They’re dangerous things.”

Visuals editor:

Justin Sanders

Banana Peel Read More »

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