Pectoriloquy |


Laurie Billman
Author and Funding Information

Editor’s Note: Laurie Billman grew up in Colorado and misses the mountains. She now lives in North Carolina with her husband, an anthropologist, and two teenage daughters. She works as a mental health therapist.

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 CHEST Manuscript Central.

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

© 2010 American College of Chest Physicians

Chest. 2010;137(3):736. doi:10.1378/chest.09-1732
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My heart attacked me in the kitchen
acting murderous
as if prepared to kill a mastodon
it thumped up and felled me to the floor
In the emergency room
I was laid out, my veins prodded
Doctors stood over me like crows around a wriggling worm
squawking their foreign medical tongues
I took a five-day morphine vacation
More doctors puzzled over my wounded center
looked for clogs, broken veins
angry paths of illicit drugs breaking the rhythm
Once home, I looked so normal, the death stamp hidden
People stared intently, looked for scars
asked how are you I answered fine
imagining the ending period on my sentence
I prayed to the Jesus pictures of my childhood,
walked on spirit knees to whatever shrine I could conjure
listed all my sins, certainly gluttony and sloth,
bargained silently for forgiveness of the most trivial transgression
One day I imagined myself an old lady
her face was vague but her voice was clear
She said there is more life here
keep moving toward me let nothing stop you
People fear aging but I fear
not meeting my old lady




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