Pectoriloquy |


Terry S. Johnson, MFA, MEd, MM
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Editor’s Note: The author writes, “I suffer from postherpetic neuraglia. Writing this poem gave me an opportunity to describe an episode.” Terry S. Johnson has explored careers as a newspaper advertising clerk, a library assistant, and a professional harpsichordist before serving as a public school elementary teacher. She earned her M.F.A. in Writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Reproduction of this article is prohibited without written permission from the American College of Chest Physicians. See online for more details.

Chest. 2014;145(1):182. doi:10.1378/chest.13-0751
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Not a sudden crack of lightning against
a mountain cliff, nor the burst of a volcano’s
first bombs. No, my pain swells offshore,
apprehension the tsunami will strike soon
and hit hard, battering beaches of cells.
Pressure rams against my skull, across
the forehead, and lodges on the cheekbone.
An entire hemisphere under siege, borders
indisputable, the healthy neurons jittery
as if a junta rules next door.
A refugee, I wander the periphery, hope
for a clandestine crossing, yet know
when this torrent subsides, devastation will
remain and my earth will again fissure.




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