Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Category: Poetry

  • The two ends of the stethoscope

    Jill Kar New Delhi, India   Author’s note: The theme of this poem is the decline of doctor-patient relationship in the modern medical setting. Through the expression of unsaid feelings, this poem outlines the thoughts of a patient (stanza 1) and a doctor (stanza 2) in the setting of a health consultation on a busy…

  • O Child! My Child!

    Alice RanjanRedmond, Washington, USA O Child! My Child!Enter did you, into this world,incarnadine and warm.But when I held you in my arms,you did not shriek or love or scorn.Nay, you took the pathfrom mother’s bloodto River Styxin evanescent breath.How I wish you could have stayed with meto see the world beyond. You will not see…

  • To my colleagues in Ukraine whom I saw on TV

    Barry Meisenberg Baltimore, Maryland, United States   Limestone fragments of the “Vulture Stele” now in the Louvre Museum, Paris, France. A stele is a stone pillar erected as a monument to some great event. This stele was created circa 2500 BC to celebrate the victory of King Eannatum of Lagash over Ush, king of Umma.…

  • The grieving one: on the death of a spouse

    Paul Rousseau Charleston, South Carolina, United States   “A real experience of death isolates one absolutely. The bereaved cannot communicate with the unbereaved.” – Iris Murdoch, An Accidental Man, 1971   ‘Alone’ holds the word ‘one.’ Photo by Javier Ocampo Zuluaga on Pixabay. After the death of a spouse, we are al(one). ____ One pillow…

  • Bone headdress

    Susan Sample Salt Lake City, Utah, United States After artwork created by a person with cancer   Cow’s Skull with Calico Roses. Painting by Georgia O’Keeffe, 1931. Art Institute of Chicago. No known restrictions on publication. Why tens of bones linked with silver chain into an earthly veil? I gaze at other entries: hand-stitched quilts…

  • Villanelle

    Jolene Won Chicago, Illinois, United States   Photo by Sandy Torchon on Pexels. I did not know today would be your last – we see no end for those that we hold dear. If I had known I’d not have let it pass. The nurse who knows she can’t set down her tasks continues on,…

  • Battle of six feet

    Mark Mosley Wichita, Kansas, United States   Sleep (w/CPAP). Artwork by Howard J on Flickr, October 19, 2020. CC BY-NC 2.0. They die alone now; jet pilots soaring solo upward muffled voices sucked into machines speaking a language we recognize but too distant to quite understand until their plastic faces harden and eyes glaze over…

  • Metastatic sarcoma

    Tulsi Patel Chicago, Illinois, United States   His big regret was never building his son a trampoline, now locked away in the shed like some treasure chest he can’t open. Eyes welling up, he says to me proudly, resignedly “16 tumors” before he coughs up a river of rotten red roses. A Foot Bridge, North…

  • Happy hypoxia

    Khyati Gupta Mumbai, India Scots Mission Hospital, Tiberias (Torrance). Hospital beds. Photo. Matson Collection, c. 1934-39. Library of Congress. Via Wikimedia. Public domain.   Poet’s statement: Happy hypoxia is a poem I wrote while trying to capture the thoughts of a patient in solitude infected with coronavirus amidst the second wave of the pandemic.  …

  • On the death of a hospital volunteer

    Bonnie Salomon Lake Forest, Illinois, United States   Golf course greens were not for you—too quiet.  No cruise ships to sail—too boring.  Retirement held no enchantment for you.  Mask and pills alongside a coffee. Photo by Fawaz.tairou. Via Wikimedia. CC BY-SA 4.0. Instead, you chose us—  —the motley ER crew—hardly noticed,   gliding through white coats…