© 2021 Pulse - Voices from the Heart of Medicine, Inc. All rights reserved.
About the artist:
Pris Campbell has published free verse and short forms (haiku and tanka) in numerous journals over the years. She developed her love of graphic manipulation of images through creating haiga–haiku combined with an image. One of her graphics was used for the cover
Startled out of sleep, I reflexively reach for my beeping pager. For a split second, I lie poised between wakefulness and terror in the pitch-dark resident call room, not sure where I am or what happened. I resolve to sleep with the lights on from now on.
I dial the call-back number.
“Pod A,” a caffeinated voice chirps. It’s Candice, one of the nurses.
“Hi. Amy here, returning a
I did make that first cut and many more afterward. I didn’t pass out, and eventually my heart stopped pounding when I picked up the scalpel. As time went on, we learned an impossible amount about the way
It was a grim night. A man had stumbled, drunk, into the street and been hit by a car. The car drove off, but bystanders called 911. The man was strapped to a bright yellow gurney and brought to the emergency department in an immaculately clean ambulance. He himself, however, was disheveled, soiled and violently combative. He fought. He yelled. He spat. He smelled. He was disgusting.
Everyone deserves good care, thought I. My evaluation found him
His hand-carved pipes still lean
in their rack like a row of saxophones
and fill the room with memories
of black vinyl records, Glenn Miller’s band
playing “Chattanooga Choo Choo,”
a kitchen match scratched
across the bottom of his shoe
and swirling clouds of tobacco smoke,
a tribute to the charred remains
of the man who still lives in smoke-filled
I miss Alba. I don’t know why, but I do. She was the most challenging patient I’ve ever had. I dreaded seeing her in the office–and yet, somehow, she won me over.
Alba was fifty-nine, with short, silver hair, a deep, gravelly voice from decades of smoking, and an attitude. She had lung disease, heart disease, depression, arthritis and HIV. She also had a complicated social situation. She’d used cocaine and