Pectoriloquy |


Karen Loeb
Author and Funding Information

Editor’s Note: The poet writes: “The poem is an early memory. Besides showing my mother’s dependence on cigarettes, which led to emphysema, it shows an earlier time when it was safe to send even a very young child on errand.”

Michael Zack, MD, FCCP

Editor’s note for authors of submissions to Pectoriloquy: Poems should not exceed 350 words, should not have been previously published, and should be related to concerns of physicians and medicine. First submissions to the Pectoriloquy Section should be submitted via e-mail to poetrychest@aol.com. Authors of accepted poems will be asked to submit the final version to CHESTManuscript Central.

Reproduction of this article is prohibited without written permission from the American College of Chest Physicians (www.chestjournal.org/site/misc/reprints.xhtml).

© 2010 American College of Chest Physicians

Chest. 2010;137(2):493. doi:10.1378/chest.09-1647
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Twenty paper tubes
in a white and green
package—penguin on the
front. Dollar bill folded in my
pocket, my mother telling me
bring back the change.
I set out on my journey
four years old
note pinned to my sweater
please give my daughter
two packs of Kools unfiltered
walking the half block on
Blackstone to 53rd then
the long block to the tiny
food store that we called
the Juicy Fruit after
our favorite gum. Two brothers
owned it—one stocky, one
a toothpick—both with arms
covered in thick hair I thought
of as fur. The thin one
knelt down, unpinning my note
leaving it unread
then dropped two packs
and the jingling change into
a brown bag that he stapled
shut. I made the trek home
past the barber shop with its
spinning red and white pole
past the huge stone church—
my mother waiting anxiously
to light up.




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