Off the Shelf, Poetry Thursdays
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Elysium and Hades from My Backyard

Will be
A true cure.
But for this moment,
That is nothing but reverie:
An oneiric lie
Pulling me
So far
The surface
Of my own backyard
Into the Stygian waters
Of the primeval
Fear we choose
To not
With eyes
Facing up
At Elysium,
A firmament begetting life.
As my body falls
Farther down,
I let
To where
I am called
Because it has spread
Beyond the reach of medicine,
Within the sulci
Of a brain
That is
To lose
Its own way.
The oncologist,
With bleary eyes and deep regret,
Advised that I plan
As needed
For the
Of a
Road traveled
For so many years,
A road now obstructed ahead,
A road now ending.
I drown my
Set aflame.
Methotrexate failed?
Refractory to the treatment?
What does it all mean?
Loss of life?
There must
Be a way
Out of this Hades,
This resolute fate binding me.
The wishful thinking:
There will be
A cure

Poetry Thursdays is a weekly newsletter that highlights poems by medical students and physicians. This initiative is led by Slavena Salve Nissan at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. If you are interested in contributing, please contact Slavena.

Ashten Duncan, MPH, CPH Ashten Duncan, MPH, CPH (11 Posts)

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

OU-TU School of Community Medicine

Ashten Duncan is a third-year medical student at the OU-TU School of Community Medicine located in Tulsa, Oklahoma. A 2018-2019 Albert Schweitzer Fellow, he recently received his Master of Public Health (MPH) with an interdisciplinary focus from the University of Oklahoma Hudson College of Public Health. Ashten attended the University of Oklahoma for his undergraduate program, completing a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Microbiology and minors in Chemistry and French. An aspiring family physician, Ashten is currently on a National Health Service Corps scholarship. 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 written pieces that have been published on and and in Blood and Thunder and The Practical Playbook. Ashten is currently serving as Associate Author for the upcoming edition of First Aid for the USMLE Step 1.

The Lived Experience

As medical students, we sometimes lose sight of our purpose for going into medicine and feel that we are exerting ourselves excessively with little feedback from our environment. It is important that we remember that, while we are living through the experiences that come with our training, our future patients are also living through their own experiences. The focus of this column is to examine topics in positive psychology, lifestyle medicine, public health and other areas and reflect on how these topics relate to medical students, physicians and patients alike.