Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Reporting a pandemic

Francis Christian
Saskatoon, Canada


Nonno watching the news. Jakob Montrasio. Taken on December 21, 2011. From Flickr. CC BY 2.0

Dust to dust and doom delivered

by newscasts dripping irony

in considered doses of despair;

feigning knowledge of ignorance,

feigning ignorance of absent panic

and knowledge from experts

claiming uncertainty.


But the web of knowledge weaves

chiffoned layers for me and you and John,

openly uncertain, uncertainly open

to imperfect measure of mortality.

Viral news tempered here

by tantrum of fierce competition

from other news summoned instantly.


I hear the grocer’s shelves are bare

I hear that the markets have dived.

A commercial consumes our screens

something about dog biscuits . . .

and then I hear as “breaking news”

that we are not to panic . . .

that since the last sip of coffee,

another four are dead.



FRANCIS CHRISTIAN, MD, FRCSEd, FRCSC, is a poet and a surgeon who lives in the Canadian prairie town of Saskatoon. He regards poetry and surgery as the right and left arms of his existence. His book of poems, “Amphibian And Other Poems” will be published by Harp Publishing and he is also the editor of the Journal of The Surgical Humanities.


Winter 2020  |  Sections  |  Poetry

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