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Pectoriloquy |

For All Those I Can’t Save FREE TO VIEW

Adam B. Possner, MD
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Editor’s Note:Adam B. Possner, MD, is an assistant professor of general internal medicine at The George Washington University in Washington, DC. His poetry has appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the Annals of Internal Medicine, and Neurology, among many others. “For All Those I Can't Save” is a tongue-in-cheek perspective on what it's like to be a poet and a doctor. Although not nearly the same as a doctor telling a patient's loved ones that the patient is dying, the reality is that sometimes the poet-doctor has to give himself bad news about his poem.

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


Copyright 2016, American College of Chest Physicians. All Rights Reserved.


Chest. 2016;149(5):1347. doi:10.1016/j.chest.2015.09.023
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    Even though I’m a young doctor,
    already I’ve lost so many.
    Sometimes I can see the writing
    on the wall, the proverbial
    foot in the grave from the very
    beginning and I know there is
    nothing I can do to save them.
    The hardest ones to lose are those
    that start off at first glance healthy,
    brimming with possibility,
    only to choke, aspirate, then
    linger for a few weeks, flat-lined.

    In either case, when it’s clear that
    the end is near, my poet-self
    sits down my doctor-self and says:

    I have some bad news. Your poem
    is dying. It’s not going to
    make it. It’s only a matter
    of time. I’m sorry for your loss.
    I can imagine how you feel.
    It’s never easy to let go.
    I did my best, I tried every
    revision I could to save it.
    Your poem has suffered so much.
    Now it won’t suffer any more.
    And neither will any reader.


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