Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

To see or not to see

J. Trig Brown
Durham, North Carolina, United States

Walter Cronkite. U.S. Marine Corps photo in Clark Dougan and Stephen Weiss, Nineteen Sixty-Eight. Boston: Boston Publishing Company, 1983. Wikimedia.


In my youth I watched
the body count
In black and white
the nightly news
“and that’s the way it is”
Saint Walter mouthed,
to living rooms nationwide.
This visible enemy
Invisibly changing us all.

Today, masked, I watch
the body count
In high definition
colorful graphics,
erratic, non-stop messaging,
fingers pointing
fingers crossed,
this invisible enemy
visibly changing us all.



J. TRIG BROWN, MD, MPH, 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.”


Spring 2020  |   Sections  |  Poetry

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