Off the Shelf, Poetry Thursdays
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Two Beds


Motionless, a man awakes from his stupor of heart. Relief from sharpness, the pooling and swelling. Three cardiac storms passed over like rain, each caught before a flooding. His heavy frame regrets the drive-up window, hours spent on the couch at home. He breathes in hospital air like a cigarette, detestable and familiar.

Lying still, another man can only clutch his chest. A dull headache distracts from the pain of breathing, the dryness of his throat. Lips like a cracked painting. Bedside pictures remind him of family picnics, hikes, the marathon he finished at forty-five. To be outside again. Cancer was meant for smokers, for factory workers, smog breathers. Two beds, one next to the other.


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


Steven Duncan (4 Posts)

Contributing Writer

UT Southwestern Medical School


Steven is a writer and medical student at UT Southwestern Medical School in Dallas, Texas. In 2018, he graduated from Brigham Young University with a dual degree in microbiology and Russian. Steven is earning an MD with distinction in global health. In the future, he would like to pursue a career in international medicine and primary care.