Pectoriloquy |


Rick Anthony Furtak, PhD
Author and Funding Information

Editor’s Note: The author writes, “I live in Denver, Colorado, and teach philosophy at Colorado College. ‘In Limbo’ is one of a series of poems that I wrote after a period of time during which I was unexpectedly hospitalized several times, because of symptoms related to renal failure. After a year on dialysis, and another year of multiple surgeries including a nephrectomy, I am now a kidney transplant recipient, grateful to be alive and well again.”

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. See online for more details.

Chest. 2015;148(2):571. doi:10.1378/chest.15-0545
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Those combed, articulated ridges
(visible texture of the clouds)
are never glimpsed by those of us
in bedlike chairs or chairlike beds;
we may recall, but cannot witness
moments of frozen transformation
(as when mountainside drizzle whitens
into snow). You can’t be present
– except as a spectator, aside
from fields of play – as winter springs
or summer falls. You cannot finish
your sentences – cannot watch
the monitors that spy on you.
What happened to make gravity
so heavy, time so undefined?
Why can’t you stand, have a razor,
see your face, or sleep unguarded?
You can neither disembody
nor incorporate the unknown
diagnosis you’ve been granted –
question marks to fill the blank.
The false and true alarms, sounds
of chirp or groan, obliterate
all calm. You cannot wander off
or dream for long that you are not
   here, inside the hospital.




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