Pectoriloquy |

Chemo Ward at Texas Children’s Hospital— for Suzanne FREE TO VIEW

Jerry Bradley, PhD
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Editor’s Note: Jerry Bradley is Professor of English at Lamar University, poetry editor of Concho River Review, founder and editor of the New Mexico Humanities Review and past-president of the Conference of College Teachers of English.

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;138(1):231. doi:10.1378/chest.09-1928
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At the computer struggling with a poem,
I imagine you examining a child
who has surrendered to the weight of her own bones.
The protocol has failed, and the oncologist will send her home
where her psalm-swallowing parents will wait for her to die.
And though you understand, you curse your faith
and my lack of it, believing that any caress
might bear a sufficient dose of hope.
But vodka is not served in the gingerbread house;
crows have already lighted on the roof
and weevils spoiled the grain. The starlight
is counterfeit, and a phantom poses
with his sickle beside the last wolf in the forest.
The poem I am writing will not speak itself.
It cannot save anyone or transform the world
because it is about omissions:
the unrepaired watch, a broken bike,
some father pulling on mismatched boots to drag
a doomed child’s sled through the snow.
My poem, when it comes, will be a dispatch
to cows returning home, an ode to firewood in free verse,
one that renovates labor into a daily sentence
spun from grammar’s broken glass.
It will not be a monument to a martyr or saint;
this poem will not contain any living person.




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