Off the Shelf, Poetry Thursdays
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A Subset of Innumerable Thoughts and Observations

I began writing poetry and short monologues during college to aid in the complicated task of unraveling the repressed emotions I gathered throughout my childhood. I quickly realized, they allow the inner recesses of my soul to connect with my imagination, together spewing forth a wonderful concoction of syllables, metaphors and outright madness on dozens of sticky notes. Since then, I have used these writings as a form of memoir — detailing noteworthy events in my life with a free-flowing form and allowing the often chaotic thought process to ink itself onto a mobile phone note application at random times in the day. To my loved ones, these writings were unique and insightful, which provided me the courage to pursue them further. It is time I share them with strangers in hopes of participating in one of the most beautiful things in history: human connection and growth as a collective. 

Madre Tierra

The mountains. A place where all seems tranquil, all seems nonexistent, all seems gone. The worries, the fears, the anxieties, the connections, the pain, seem to disappear. As you drive down the single country road with all windows down, drowning in the fresh air around you, you feel free, alive, and careless. You watch the blue tinted mountains in the distance come into view, and the trees become larger than life. You dive into the world of being microscopic, a tiny ant on a gigantic mountain. You see the green surrounding you, with only the open road in front of you as an exit. You just drive, no plans, no directions, just you and the miles of open road that will take you home. The home where you feel safe, the home where you are natural. Without any technology and stresses, you divulge into nature. Just you and nature, no complications, just freedom. No time, no alarms, no noise. Freedom. You hear the birds singing, the leaves rustling, the worms digging, your breath. Tranquility. Peace. Alone. Safe.


“I look upon the world with the eyes of an infant — glazed over, yet so bright. I recognize the pain that is ever present around me but am unable to react. I am bound by my inexperience and naivety of the world that was created for me. The one that prevents me at every turn from straying away. Just like ducklings, I follow the path laid out in front of me by those who are too succumbed to the current way of life, destined to continue in their footsteps when they are gone. How do I escape the line that leads to the same destination as everyone else? How do I become a swan? All it takes is one step in a different direction to break the cycle. That step often feels like I am entering quicksand with anvils dragging down the ankles I control. I combat it. I think light thoughts and maybe, just maybe, I will survive long enough to take a second step on my own. Every journey starts with a single step, and I just took mine.”

Intangible Contemplations

“I contemplate the role of myself within a grander scheme that is dictated by unseen guiding principles, established and reinforced since the dawn of civilization. Concepts such as trust, ethics, purpose and death swirl around me like a wispy cloud on a bright sunny fall afternoon. I reach out, hoping to clutch the fabric of their essences within my grasp and ascertain their true forms in hopes of sharing the knowledge with those around me. Yet, it flows through my fingers, bending to a force out of my control and understanding. Forever surrounded by clouds of thoughts, never to be tamed, I glide through them, blissfully unaware of the thunder clouds that are around. For the moment, the sky is clear, and I am one with it. Gravity will surely come soon, but each moment away from its dreadful effect on my soul will be both cherished and forgotten until the next opportunity. Back towards blissful ignorance I return, yearning for the wispy clouds that I often forget are there.”


“Up before the crack of dawn, I openly stride towards my destiny. Undeterred, accompanied by the music of the birds, I project the days’ future events as if I were in a one-room antique movie theater and my imagination were the screen. Dramas, tragedy, action, soap opera, concerts and rom-coms fill the empty space around me, as minimal cars pollute the morning air at this hour. Step by step, I march to new adventures with a smile wide across my face, as I know the real day will be even more cinematic than anything I could ever imagine on the doctor shows I grew up watching.”


“To be given the responsibility of caring for others has been a goal of mine for as long as I can remember. The ultimate sacrifice one must make — to momentarily relinquish their own autonomy and place it in our charge — is one not to be scoffed at. We dare not treat that decision lightly as physicians, but handle it as if it were a baby bird and we the gentle giant. We treat it with the kindness and respect we would to our own kin, repairing and healing with our words and actions. We stabilize, remedy, improve, replace, remove, all in a manner that will delay death, or in some humbling cases greet it with a gentle handoff. I embark on the journey of learning the ins-and-outs of this responsibility. As I take this next step, I remember the many thousands leading to this point and those next to mine that carried and guided me when I was weak and off track. To those, I nod with determination and a fire, combating Helios’ chariot within my gaze. To those who I serve in the next few years, I promise to try my best and provide the utmost care I would want for myself. Thank you for your trust in me; I will do everything in my power to uphold the promise I make here today. Here I go, one step at a time, my stethoscope in my hand, waiting for each opportunity to gain experience and grow alongside those I have been entrusted to heal and connect with.”


True connection is, by far, the strongest drug that humans can inject into their systems. It can cure diseases or produce thoughtfulness on a level that surpasses spiritual meditations. It can provide incredible emotional variations including joy, longing, sadness, curiosity, loneliness, anger, fear and, most importantly, the feeling of being content. Many view connection as a byproduct of society, a simple but unavoidable part of the equation that neither inhibits nor enhances life. While there are various levels of connection, in its purest form, there is no better stimulant to human life than a real connection with others. On the contrary, to be screaming the sound of your soul into an empty void is tiring and disheartening. But imagine if, while doing that, you heard echoes, and then harmonies ring back to your lonely ears. Humans need connection. The unending question we must ask ourselves each day is this: where are we getting it? What level of connection do we partake in? Do we discuss the weather or discuss our deep set fears? Is this connection providing a new perspective on life? There is only one way to find out: Say Hello!

Poetry Thursdays is an initiative that highlights poems by medical students. If you are interested in contributing or would like to learn more, please contact our editors.

Kenneth Lopez Kenneth Lopez (1 Posts)

Contributing Writer

The George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences

Kenneth Lopez is a medical student at the George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Class of 2024, who is experienced in multiple fields, ranging from chemistry, biology, sociology, and mathematics. Trained in multiple industry-standard lab techniques in biology and medicine, specifically immunology and microbiology. His experiences in a wide variety of scientific disciplines, as well as his compassionate nature allow him to contribute dynamic ideas to organizations and teams, as well as produce high-quality work.