Pectoriloquy |

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Andy Hughes, BA
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Editor’s Note: “There is a lot in literature linking the space of the body with external space, and it intrigued me to explore this by creating small details as well as large ones.” Andy Hughes is a graduate student in Massachusetts. He dedicates this poem to Dr. Frank Ganzhorn.

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.

Michael Zack, MD, FCCP

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

© 2011 American College of Chest Physicians

Chest. 2011;139(5):1245. doi:10.1378/chest.10-0896
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The veins are brave canals that carry dogs
and sacks of garbage crooked under rain
away to somber provinces of flesh
and nerve still silent. The heart is a long
forgotten city still producing chairs,
or leather shoes just like it always has
because it was the capital one time,
and ragged hands do only what they know
in darkness, after smokestacks and expansion
to the crowded boroughs: stomach, chest,
the thighs, the arms, the clouds around the face
that give it shape. They palpitate and churn
with residents unsure and left alone
but somehow all the lights are still switched on,
the heat is running, phone lines are cut down
but messages are sent. The body/country
screams and hears itself, sends messengers
down ancient cobbled streets of burns, snapped bones,
and arteries like cul-de-sacs, to jot
down notes and take its census. Then
the ones up north, the high, electric ones
decide that reconstruction must begin
and so the movement starts awakening
lost cells, and limbs are twitching. There are signs:
reports from outer space of white and black,
temperature, pain. But now the smoke
is cleared, the rivers cleaned, the dogs revived
the country of the body starts to wake:
The grasses in the heart are slow and green,
the lungs are treetops stirring with the wind,
lips twitch, the organisms of the eyes
swim fast again, the teeth and lips
are opening and readying for speech
and finally the landscape is prepared
for its surrounding world to be revealed.
The men and women, cattle, fish and birds
of this abandoned place of sentient play
now feel their country open up its mouth:
and scream again, because the body feels
the air, it sees the walls and knows it is alone.




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