Six months later
it’s still the same:
I wake at 3 a.m.
my body hyper-
vigilant, as if
to say: Don’t
cut me again.
And the sleep
meds—Restoril,
Valium, Lunesta,
Ambien? Candy
to my fearsome
sleeplessness.
They only make
me wish I had
the job of giving
drugs their names—
(a poet should
have that job)
like Adam
in the pharm-
aceutical garden.


Dr. Ogura

I'm glad I wasn’t conscious
when they stapled me shut.
Do they use a staple gun?

No…and yet they must.
How else get them in?
I should have asked,

I guess, or possibly not.
But when Dr. Ogura took
them out, so skillfully

I could hardly feel it-
fifty-six of them clamped
along the incision

he’d opened-I asked him
why they used staples now
instead of stitches.

He paused, his hand poised
above my abdomen, then pulled
from his imperfect English

a perfect reply: “To make
the wound…more beautiful.”

* * *

One moment keeps drifting back
above all the others,
unloosened from time’s illusory flow:

how he stood in the Met
mesmerized before Van Goghs
and Monets and Pissarros

-as if held by some distant signal
from the source of beauty itself-

and asked in a breathless whisper,
“Are those the originals?”


John Brehm is the author of two prize-winning volumes of poetry: Sea of Faith and Help Is On the Way. He lives in Portland, OR. www.johnbrehm.net