Guest poem sent in by Allen Finley
(Poem #1239) Hospital Haiku
The new interns Stiff in starched white suits. The July heat! Grinning into The newborn nursery A man holding daisies. Screaming objections In the hospital lobby-- A small naked boy. All night below zero. Today in the clinic New complaints of chest pain. Resting on the stairs An old man with a large chest And a cigarette. Holding daffodils Near the hospital florist-- An old woman, weeping. Only one room is lit In the hospital tonight-- And the August moon! Beside this death bed Two old men Embracing.
From Ward Rounds, Washington Square East Publishers, Wallingford, PA, 1970. Kenneth Dale Beernink graduated from Stanford University Medical School, started internship at Yale, and was married, all in 1965. In 1966, he was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia, returned to Stanford as a research fellow. During three years at Stanford he continued to play jazz (and other genres), built a harpsichord, and fathered a child. He died in 1969. I discovered this small book of poems when I was in medical school in the late 1970s, and found them very moving. Most of the poems in the book are quite long, and generate wonderful images of individual patients (or patient types). I thought I would start, however, by submitting these haiku, which portray gem-like moments in time that would be recognized by any nurse or physician who has trained in a general hospital. Although some of the descriptions and medical outcomes seem dated now (interns haven't worn starched white for many years), the images are timeless. If people are interested, I will submit some of Beernink's other works. Allen Finley, MD FRCPC Professor of Anesthesia and Psychology Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada www.pediatric-pain.ca