Things My Wife Left in the ICU

A pacemaker and defibrillator

Sheets pressed hard with suffering

Seven fingers and one arm, gangrenous dead

Unknown liters of blood

Failed kidneys

Read More »

Decision

B546 wants to die
eight years after they saved her.
Cervical-cord injuries are cruel.
For Maria it was a gunshot,
but it could have been a car wreck, a fall,
or a drunken misstep off a roof.
The reasons seemed to matter; now they don’t.
Thirty-two, alone, paralyzed, on a vent,
she mouths “no” to the antibiotics, the heart meds.
“I want to die,” she shouts in a whisper.

Read More »

Medical Home

A model or philosophy of primary care that is patient-centered, comprehensive, team-based, coordinated, accessible and focused on quality and safety.   –Patient-Centered Primary Care Collaborative

It’s a philosophy
not a place.
I get it.
Certainly we never used that term
to describe what we offered
there in the broken heart of the city

Read More »

Early Morning. Again

I sit on the sofa,
alone in the sunroom,
stirring a cup of mocha-coffee,

Soon it turns cold.
Your mother’s quilt, an heirloom
pulled off our bed,

wraps my shoulders.
The corner touching my cheek
is soaked in wild grief,

Read More »

Bone Loss

Whisper me

into the chambers

of bone,

honeycomb of marrow,

talisman

bleached,

rib      of      grey      dove,

Read More »
Back Pain

Back Pain

A 77-year-old woman presents with back pain.
No trauma. No radiation. No red flags.
ROS* otherwise surprisingly negative.
Her exam is unremarkable, actually pretty darn good.
FROM, negative SLR, full distal strength, sensation and DTRs.*
After the usual cautions I reassure her,
prescribe activity, no meds and the tincture of time.
She is fine with that, appreciative and pleasant.
Then she says, “Should I talk to my sister?”
They are estranged, as usual about who got Mom’s whatever.
Her sister is 86, this

Read More »
A Short Explanation of Everything

A Short Explanation of Everything

Our patient says she’s burning up, burning up.
We sponge her off. This student is learning how blood boils,
how shaking chills and drenching sweats punctuate fever,
how water moves in and out of cells
along concentration gradients, how nerves talk,
how some circuits turn all the lights on and all the lights off,
how hearts beat one cell at a time while squeezing together
and in sequence, how the life of the mind
is beyond understanding in the same way that a kidney
will never understand the flow of

Read More »
On the Grounds of a Former State Mental Hospital

On the Grounds of a Former State Mental Hospital

Through wounds in whitewash, brick edges crumble
To red dust. Weeds pierce the interstices of paths slowly
Giving themselves up to trackless overgrowth
Are all shapes broken that differ from expected forms
Or is this slant just as proper to a cupola as symmetry?
Not if it lets the rain in, I suppose

Read More »
Whatever Else

Whatever Else

Of course, I wanted to save you
from all this–from machines
and plastic tubes, from the shooters
with their dyes, from the guys
who scan your organs
for the truth, from waits in cold rooms
whose lights illuminate your life
and make it…nothing. I respected
the darkness in you–your son
dead in a senseless crash, the stroke
itself, your husband’s absence.

Read More »

Scroll to Top