Off the Shelf
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His raspy cough did echo stridently.
Consumed with stupor at present was he.
Although I wished to speak ardently,
I sat and stared; my mind was lost at sea.

Hepatic failure claimed him mentally,
And colored yellow both his eyes so wide
As too his being stained corporally.
Despite this, haven safe he stayed inside.

Remaining silent, gripping tight his hand,
I bowed my head: a solemn moment bound.
The time was nigh for this expiring man,
But always here does dignity astound.

I entered — later now — his former room
And recalled well a death devoid of gloom.

This piece first appeared in the 2017 issue of Blood and Thunder: Musings on the Art of Medicine, a medical humanities journal published by the students of the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine. If you are interested in obtaining a copy of the journal or submitting a piece for the 2018 edition, please visit the website for more information.

Ashten Duncan Ashten Duncan (5 Posts)

Medical Student Editor and Former Managing Editor (2017-2018)

OU-TU School of Community Medicine

Ashten Duncan is a MD/MPH student at the OU-TU School of Community Medicine located in Tulsa, Oklahoma. A 2018-2019 Albert Schweitzer Fellow, he is currently in the public health stage of his training. He is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma, where he completed a B.S. in Microbiology alongside minors in Chemistry and French. An aspiring family physician, Ashten is currently on a National Health Service Corps scholarship, which entails a four-year term of service in an underserved community following residency training in primary care. His research interests include hope theory, burnout in medical education, and positive psychology in vulnerable populations. Ashten is passionate about creative writing and what it represents. He has published pieces on and and in Blood and Thunder and the upcoming edition of The Practical Playbook.