Pectoriloquy |


John Olsen
Author and Funding Information

Editor’s Note: The author writes: “I was born and raised in New York’s Adirondack Park area, and I am currently studying for an MFA in Creative Writing from Queens College. I wrote ‘Stenosis’ to my father, who suffered a fatal heart attack. This tragedy spurred my writing, which served as a form of communication with my late father.”

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(6):1540-1541. doi:10.1378/chest.10-1073
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White and green, energized, our house trembled
   Lego landmarks across its floorboards,
furnace moaned rusty melodies while
   mom tapped Singer rhythms on thread chords.
         Without power,
         45s stopped cold
            and we danced cautious
            furniture bump tangos.
         Then, you planted fuses
         in your palms, doled volts
            through walls, through outlets
            to Waits and Django.
   With windows yellowed bright again, you led
us outside to windmill sparklers overhead,
   lifted pete and me
   to the Blazer roof
then tuned through AM
static, band-aided
   fingers pinching a cigar.
   We thought loose
dreams, watching fireworks
flower and fade.
   As we reached to pluck bursts, you found a station,
floating somewhere on air, and I followed
   its echo—rode waves to distant planets,
dodging meteorites and black holes.
   When I spun out
   of control, I carused
off the roof, you carried
me back to mom
   who stitched my wound with
   earth’s pine hairs, crossed
her heart, clapped hands,
stoppered blood with psalm.
         But, there was no quick-fix
         for you, just hopeless
            and doctors twisting
         burnt copper
         wires in your chest.
            In my head, I still
            hear your flatlined songs
and reach three fingers through autopsied skin
   to feel your memory-pulse, then plug in.




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