Friday, September 20, 2019


Gross Anatomy

The first day of gross lab
I unzipped the canvas drape
And there was my own pale face,
Those vacant lifeless eyes.
I shouldn’t have been surprised. 
After all it was my own choice
To donate this body to science.
It’s right there on my license.
And so I went about the unseemly business;
I cut myself by my own hand,
Opened this shell for all to see.
Who ever learned anything 
Without a little self harm?
It sounds so awful but 
No one sounded the alarm.
This is all on the up and up.  
I’m here to help
I’m here to educate,
Myself, most of all.
This is the day I finally get to look inside.
I thought I knew this body so well
But it’s easy to get lost,
Easy to lose your orientation
Being in the places 
that have never felt the light.
(Shocking the number of times I had to reference the guide)
You have to label everything so you don’t forget,
Like blazing a trail
Though a forbidden wood.
Little red tipped pins plunged into:
Ulnar nerve
Accessory spleen
Inferior epigastric vein
Recurrent laryngeal
Corona mortis
Everything gets a name.  
Dissection is slow and laborious.
So many structures to identify and weigh 
Everything except for the heart
Which I’m afraid to touch
Fragile, fearful it will fall apart.
At least I can see it now
in its grayed stillness
while it pounds away invisible
inside my own living chest.

At the end of the hour
Everything returns to the hollows.
White sheet pulled over my head
My gutted corpse basted
in a shallow pool of formalin.
We latch the metal coffin
and turn all the lights off.
The time was not wasted but
I’ve seen enough
of this view from the land of the dead.
Self autopsy is usually a one time event. 
Giving yourself is a totality:
You can't hold anything back.
All the things you think you’ve hidden
always in the end get found;
a good anatomist knows his way around.
By the end of a dissection
the damaged, the broken, the aberrant 
used up form we leave 
is no longer ours to hide.
It belongs to the living instead.


Sunday, September 15, 2019

sunday poem


To decide whether life is worth living is the fundamental question of philosophy”
-Albert Camus

Camus knew how to question
The nagging vexations.
He never found an answer.
The best he could do was a method;
Pushing massive boulders
Up and down a steep hill
Day after day until the end.
Sweating, straining under the weight,
Somehow still smiling,
Grinning at the absurdity of his fate.
You can close your eyes
and imagine him happy.
Or peak a bit when no one is looking
And wish the boulder would just stay put

I too embrace the absurd:
Another night on call
Every other weekend
Days and times blurred.
Another gangrenous gallbladder
Busted up appendix
Perforated bowel
Air under the diaphragm
Air tracking through the perineum
The wounds that ooze
Frantic next of kin phone calls
Chuggering wheeze behind a curtain
While on the other side
An out of town niece weeps.
Try to go home but 
The ER is calling again.
The doors never close,
Sickness never sleeps
Blah blah on and on until the end
The living all die, just you wait.
That one you save 
Gets a lovely obituary soon enough.
The stones always roll back down.
But I have no time for boulders.
My weariness precludes the effort.

Awareness of the absurd is not nearly enough.
This is second derivative shit.
I need to be aware of the absurdity
Of my chosen form of distraction.
And that's it.
I carry an old newspaper clipping of 
a young boy’s death
smashed by a car one fine day.
We had tried to save him.
Cut open his little chest.
Feathery pink lungs spilled out
But he died right there in the trauma bay.
There’s nothing ever here.
Good and good and so what.
And so I keep a small 
rounded pebble in my shoe;
formless, blunted, no blood is drawn.
A modest ache, at most,
a dull nuisance,
a query lodged against my sole.
When are you coming back home?
They don’t understand.
There is too much work to be done.
I can't lie down.
I carry this rounded stone
as a gnawing reminder
of the final absurdity.
How could I ever forget?
It’s too late to escape
this particular fate.
So dumb, stone in a shoe.
It throws off my gait
Makes my back ache.
But it works.
And this is the life I choose.
Running away is not an option;
The faster you run
The deeper the stone digs.
The very bone gets bruised.


Wednesday, September 11, 2019


Good Boy

I was always a good boy.
I did what I was told
Finished my work
Got those grades
Kept my head down
And I wasn’t too bold,
didn’t make a scene.
“Don't waste that brain,
Don’t make me ashamed”
Sit down
Roll over
Fetch me that stick
Good boy.
That’s a good boy.
But I eventually got around
to becoming a man
and I made a few scenes
and wasted a bit of my brain
and lived for lengths of shame.
I swirled around the drain
but somehow bobbed to the surface
like flotsam after the storm.

Now I have a little one of my own.
He doesn’t listen to what I say,
thinks he'll figure it out all alone.
He wants to make his own way.
Everyone says, “He’s just like you”.
Just like me.
Someday he’ll see.
For he’s a good boy too.


Sunday, September 1, 2019

Poem sunday

Storm Coming

I heard something like
A stray dog's low growl
And went outside to check.
There she was---8 feet up---- in a wretched tree
Wedged between a cachectic trunk 
And a crooked scurvied limb.
Hey what’s with that look on your face?
I’ve seen that look before:
The bills are late.
Dad didn’t hear a word you said.
The lovely girl across the bar
Chatting up another guy.
Passed over at work,
Picked last, too short,
Passing another whole day unseen,
Passing the next unable to hide 
The things you want to keep inside.
The feeling the world won’t simply unfurl
Anymore from within but simply hurtles
Forward,clacking and whistling, runaway train
From somewhere around the bend.
But the tracks seem overgrown with weeds--
How can this be? as the whistles scream
And the lights bear down;
You’re frozen in time and place,
A deer spooked halfway across the interstate.
Hey little girl, don't scowl like that.
Hey now, sweet girl, you're still only ten….
She says the boy she likes
Has a crush on her own best friend
And there’s that low rumble again,
Of a train somewhere around the bend.
Or maybe it's a far away thunder.
Those clouds are clumping up gray.
You'd best come down from the fray;
Trees are a bad place to get caught
When the lightning decides to strike.