An Anthology of Poetry and Medicine


by Paul Blom

These words have fists and they’re pounding against my skull,
weeping to be let out. If I could scream, believe me, I would.
Hell, if I could cry, believe me, I would.
Hands emerge from the nebulae in my periphery
to lubricate my unflinching eyes with artificial tears
while plastic tubes penetrate and intermingle with my veins
or slither down the back of my throat to—I assume—pump me with
oxygen or food or nutrients—everything a growing boy needs.
In one end and out the other, tubes penetrate me
run through me to collect everything my body refuses
to absorb. Other hands emerge to wipe me down turn me round turn me down.
Something somewhere nearby is pumping oxygen into my lungs
like a fireplace bellow. Iron lung Iron Man Man of Steel.
That’s it. I must be invincible. Made of steel. Too tough to die
but too heavy to move. Locked caged trapped tapped out
immobile immovable more machine now than man like
god-damn Darth Vader. I’m plugged wired synced and linked up to a baker’s
dozen of different machines, all monitoring reporting
prognosticating my progress. I can see hear feel smell taste
the dryness of a mouth begging to swallow,
a throat with cherry tongues burning.
Let me cough or gag spit them out,
at least let me swallow them down drown
them out to sizzle gasp simmer dissipate disappear
somewhere in my insides. If I could turn my head, would I see
flowers cards balloons get-well-wishes framed photos
remnants to make my hospital room more “homey” and comforting?
I can hear the heart monitor. I remember those from tv hospital dramas.
A green linear landscape against a black background, green mountains
interspersed with green plains signifying the anxious anticipation
between each heartbeat. That incessant beeping is like the
Chinese water-torture dripping water droplets on my forehead.
If I could flinch, believe me, I would. That beep reminds me
I’m still here, undying, unmoving. The silences in between remind me
I can’t hear her crying consoling comforting hoping praying chatting
above me anymore. I can’t remember the last time her face
emerged above mine to offer my eyes a
smile grimace choke sob tear. When I close my inner eyes
I just have a sense of the cords, an endless array of cords running
in into down through throughout around out out of me and
I’m just waiting for someone to trip rip them all out
and take me with them down that long slow flat line into a vacant screen.
Forget the mountains and the beeps. Gimme a plain of endless green.
But the doctors orderlies nurses are far too nimble
and no one else comes round to visit anymore.


This page has paths: