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Girl Talk

Warren Holleman

“I got pregnant. Quit sports, quit school. Quit all my dreams.”

Brenda looks fit and handsome, despite the scar running down the middle of her face. At six feet tall, she commands respect, even though her sweet, high-pitched voice belies her imposing physique.

We are sitting in a circle: Brenda, six other women and me. Most are in their thirties and forties, and in their fourth or fifth month of sobriety. They look

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Eileen M.K. Bobek

The year after I finished my emergency medicine residency, I had all four of my wisdom teeth pulled. 

Afterwards, I looked as if I had taken several punches to my face. My jaw was swollen, my skin a cornucopia of muddied blues, purples, greens, yellows and reds. If people didn’t know better, I told my husband with a laugh, they might think that I’d been beaten. 

It took weeks for the swelling

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Angels and Phantoms

Joanna Dognin

“Mama,” a little voice pipes from the back seat. “Why is that boy in a chair?”

The sun is beaming into the car as we sit at a stoplight, waiting to exit a store parking lot. My two-year-old daughter has spotted a young man, barely twenty, who smiles weakly as he rolls by in an electric wheelchair, collecting money for muscular dystrophy.

“He’s in a chair because he needs help moving around,” I

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James and Bob

Paul Rousseau

I think his name was James, but I can’t remember for sure. What I do remember is the day’s heat, the metal cart and a rust-colored dog. 

Like many homeless people, James carried his belongings in a grocery cart–a sort of mobile home for the homeless, but without the protection of a roof, the support of four walls or the security of a front door.

I’d just walked out of the local Safeway

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Medecins sans frontieres — Liberia, 2003

Les Cohen ~

I walk warily, 

searching for life
through smoking remains
of a jungle village.

My flashlight beam
slices the black haze
of equatorial darkness.
Was it Suakoko?

No wind, rustle or drum
pierces the silence
of West African night.
Torched husks of thatched huts,
clay walls liquefied,
charred dog skeletons,
feet outstretched

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Help Me

Jennifer Reckrey

Editor’s Note: Jennifer Reckrey kept a weekly journal of her experiences during her intern year.

Week 13

I had a few free minutes at the end of my clinic session this past Thursday morning, so I took over a walk-in patient from an overbooked colleague.

The patient was a large, muscular Salvadoran man in his early forties who had long-standing hypertension. He said that for the

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One More Child Left Behind

Brian T. Maurer

Making the diagnosis might be straightforward, but sometimes getting adequate medical care poses a more formidable challenge.

It was the end of an exhausting afternoon in our busy pediatric practice in Enfield, Connecticut. I had just finished seeing what I thought was the last patient of the day, only to find yet another chart resting in the wall rack, a silent signal that one more patient waited behind an adjacent closed

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The Emaciated Infant

Paula Lyons

The police had been called to the house by a neighbor who said she heard children crying and hadn’t seen the mother in two days. It was the middle of a night in July, and the children’s wails would have traveled through the project windows left open to catch cooling breezes.

Paramedics provided transport to the hospital, but the normally cynical and well-defended police were so outraged that they also came to

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See One, Do One, Teach One

Lisa DeTora

Back when I was in graduate school and working as a medical writer, a physician told me that the key to learning medical knowledge was simple: see one, do one, teach one. It was a clever (and effective) way of convincing me that I was qualified to teach something–like how to write a report–that I’d only attempted once myself.

Now, on days when nothing goes right, I find myself thinking back to that

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little black boy

Jimmy Moss

little black boy
sit down.
fold your hands into your lap
and put your lap into order
now cry me a little song.
sing me a little note about me 
caring about what you care about,
then dream me a little dream.
and when your tears turn into
oases and exposed rivers
stand up
and pour me a little cup
fill it with every broken promise
and the unfulfilled moments of
belated birthdays

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