Pectoriloquy |

Outside the ICU FREE TO VIEW

C. A. Polnitsky, MD, FCCP
Author and Funding Information

Correspondence to: C. A. Polnitsky, MD, FCCP; e-mail: capolnitsky@cs.com

Editor's Note: The poet, a physician and FCCP, was in the Writing Seminars while a premed student at Johns Hopkins. There he met a cardiologist and poet, who provided further encouragement. He writes: “The pathos and suffering on the faces and postures of ICU visitors are sometimes overwhelming. The helplessness caring for some critically ill patients has often been frustrating. Describing the emotions in verse makes them a bit more tangible and manageable.”

Michael Zack, MD, FCCP

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

Editor's note for authors of submissions to Pectoriloquy: Poems should not exceed 350 words, should not have been previously published, and should relate to concerns of physicians and medicine. First submission 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.

© 2009 American College of Chest Physicians

Chest. 2009;136(3):942. doi:10.1378/chest.09-0243
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outside the ICU
they stand
without purpose
like refugees
awakened by a hammer at the door
torn from their beds
transported barefoot in the night
just now unloaded at the terminal
travelsore in a land whose language
they find strange
and customs that make no sense
for the authorities
having not yet been told
to line up here
or go through that door
grayfaced and unwashed
they shift from foot to foot
or lean against the wall
trying to comprehend
how it has all come
to an absolute
of the normal senses
and ordered sequences
when it will be safe
to hope
or pray




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