Pectoriloquy |


Ken Haas
Author and Funding Information

Editor’s Note: The poet lives in San Francisco, where he works in the biotechnology industry. He writes: “I’ve always been interested in the fun of finding poetry where I’m certain there just can't be any. Like the rather bizarre ads we ‘scientists’ use to bridge the communication gap with ‘the laity’ about drugs.”

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

© 2010 American College of Chest Physicians

Chest. 2010;138(6):1519. doi:10.1378/chest.09-2875
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Finish your carrots before starting your rice
and it’s OCD. Good there’s a pill for that,
though take too much and you could get whacked.
It’s a two-toned blue capsule with ruby racing stripes
that also builds bone density and gets you off jury duty.
But beware hair loss, hallucinations, light-colored stool and palpitations.
Avoid entirely if you’re asthmatic, bursitic, bipolar or arthritic,
if headed for gum surgery or a three-hour movie.
The amber luminescent geltab mitigates social anxiety,
ADHD, PTS, germanophobia and gender dysphoria.
Not so good if you have kidney stones, gallstones or rhinestones,
a history of painful erections or are unable to sit
for ten minutes without handling a cell phone.
Chronic use may lead to fecal urgency or tongue rash.
The violet bowtie with vertical groove and four-digit tattoo
helps with shingles, gout, pinkeye, impotence and impetigo
but may inspire fussiness, involuntary arm movements
or swelling of the lips and feet. By no means
operate heavy machinery, particularly while breastfeeding.
Call your doctor immediately if you experience sudden loss
of consciousness and continue taking even if you feel better.
Every drug’s a poison and every poison a drug.
Arsenic for the rings of the Borgias and the salve of syphilis.
Ricin for chemo and the tips of Soviet umbrellas.
Thalidomide reborn for leprosy and lupus.
Homeopathy with hemlock or venom.
And television. And peanut butter. And sunlight.
And me for you.
It comes down to dosage.
Maybe I’m best twice daily, breakfast and bed,
maybe time-released.
And we won’t know until it happens
what parts will waste or be protected,
swell or be revealed, numb or soften,
be moved or just run.




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