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The Brain Death Exam

by James Shammas (Age: 52)
copyright 07-14-2005

Age Rating: 13 +

You'll pull back the curtain which is lifeless and white.
She will be swathed like an infant, though she is six years old.
The ambient light is soft, an almost heavenly glow
soiled by the yellow-tinge of antiseptic wall-tile.

She'll seem unblemished by time, like the doll she holds:
her pupils will be fixed, pools you peer into,
expecting a splash, a cartwheel, a movement, a flicker.

Examined twice, they are a window, a darkened glass,
where you will see-- though murkily-- your own small two
as they jump and play, then sleep soundly
as you tread and stretch thin the colors of the day.

And when you go back to your rounds, you will pretend that your only worry
was if you had said you were sorry and gave the parents a hug,
if you can ever live with "Thank you for all that you've done."

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        06-19-2006     Richard Reed Jr        

A slice of your life which reaches out and touches in a very compelling way. Good audience participation poem. I can almost, but not really ever understand, but I can feel and this moves me tremendously. Technically smooth and well-written as usual.

Keep up the outstanding work!

Thank You for the read,


        02-23-2006     Debra Rose        

Okay, this is definitly magnificent now! Great job, very chilling, and very wonderful.

Is this a personal experience where you got the inspiration? It seems as if this type of thing is happening more and more, and I hope that it's not something you've been through.

wonderful work

        02-23-2006     Debra Rose        

"A lucky charm, a doll, unblemished by time,
Like the doll she holds, pupils dilated and fixed, Examined twice,"

That part had me stumbling a little. I think using "doll" twice is maybe what did it.

The first part of the rythm was a little off, but it was overall a very good peice!

        07-18-2005     David Pekrul        

There must be many highs being a doctor, helping those in desperate need, but the lows must be painful. They say you have to distance yourself from your patients, but how? Can one ever, really create that hard shell of professionalism, without the human being poking through?

        07-15-2005     Brian Dickenson        

Jim this is so tragic, so full of pain, and a little unnecessary guilt.
I have had many tough things to do in my life, but nothing that comes close to this. For that I'm thankful.
Doctors of course are high on the list among the unsung hero's.
You are no exception.
I should hate to have to do what you describe.
Well done, Brian.

        07-14-2005     Jean George        

To be a doctor at a time like this in this poem has to be so very difficult. The poem is so beautifully and delicately written; it's as if you wanted to pay homage to child you write about. Your sadness and helpless guilt show in every line, especially the ones where you think fleetingly and with a sense of relief that your children are safe at home. You are quite the sensitive poet, Jim and that can only make you a better man, thus a better doctor.

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