Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

A city of two tales

J. Trig Brown
Durham, North Carolina, United States


Homeless Jesus by Timothy P. Schmalz, SculpturebyTPS.com
Installed at Saint John’s Hospice, a ministry of Catholic Social Service of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
Photo by Sarah Webb / Courtesy of CatholicPhilly.com

CME dawns.
Hello, Philly,
city of brotherly love,
home to Homeless Jesus two blocks off Broad.
In unmoving repose, he moves those willing to be moved.

Coffee balanced on my knee,
snacking on multiple small feedings of the mind, I
sit, meet the professors and
plod zombie-like from Arch to Race
bathed in my privilege
blathering about burnout with strangers
wrapping duct tape around our souls.

Beneath us meet others, supine on last week’s Inquirer
or, if lucky, on cardboard beds.
The luckiest spoon shopping carts
bulging trash bags hold their worldly goods
wrapping duct tape around their soles.

Psst. Excuse me, Buddy, can you spare a…
I hide my badge
fix my gaze inward
and yoga my way down 12th.



J. TRIG BROWN is a physician who practices palliative medicine and writes reflectively almost daily. One can read more of his poetry in The Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, The Journal of General Internal Medicine, and The Journal of Palliative Medicine. Requested epitaph should he have a grave marker (he won’t): “Words Matter”.


Summer 2019  |  Sections  |  Poetry

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