Carpe Diem

Johanna Shapiro ~

After my husband’s ocular stroke,
we wondered about the risk of a “real one.”
“Significantly increased,”
said the busy physician.
“What can we do?”
“Take a baby aspirin–
and live life to the fullest.”
We took this prescription to the pharmacist,
who gave us the aspirin
but added, “You’re on your own for the rest.”

About the poet:

Johanna Shapiro is a professor in the department of family medicine at the University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine and director of the school’s program in medical humanities and arts. She enjoys teaching medical students and residents about the doctor-patient relationship, and hanging out with her six grandchildren. She is one of Pulse’s two poetry editors and also coedits the narrative-essay section of Family Medicine and the “Sharing Our Stories” section of Families, Systems, & Health. Her poetry has appeared in a variety of medical journals. “Weirdly, I am not passionate about all poetry, but I do love reading other people’s medically themed poems.”

About the poem:

“Being someone of relatively feeble imagination, I would describe ‘Carpe Diem’ as pretty much a found poem. In other words, it happened more or less as I describe, and all I contributed was the thought Wow, we just lived a poem. My husband (who has made a good recovery) and I were initially frightened at yet another intimation of mortality, but concluded that it was a good reminder about cherishing life.”

Poetry editors:

Johanna Shapiro and Judy Schaefer

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6 thoughts on “Carpe Diem”

  1. WHAT THEY SHOULD HAVE SAID. We have strict limits. Seek counsel in additional directions. Try toning your body, practicing mindfulness. Write another poem.

  2. Laurice Gilbert

    I love this kind of found poem, reflecting as it does the awareness of poetry in daily life. The spareness makes it perfect.

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