All Poetry


Lines, tubes, wires, chains.
Dignity stripped, cavities drained.
The metronome of your pulse above
the beeping orchestra, dissonant buzz.
Each gesture tracked, beat recorded,
breathing measured, life distorted.
Do you still feel free?

The body, its function a masterpiece to muse,
altered by poison, fluid infused.
Vesicles, vessels, organs affixed,
shrouded in blood, lymph intermixed.
Adhered in oneness by tendon and skin,
scarcely quickened by a pump grown dim.
Do you still feel strong?

Risen before the dawning sun,
a swarm of stoic white has come
to declare the status of your issues–
Liver, kidney, heart, lung, tissue.
To examine and prod, inspect then move
a person, a soul, or a number to improve?
I hope you still feel human.

13 replies »

  1. Precise, though economic, description. The rhetorical questions at the end of each stanza may sound ironic (who, under such conditions, could answer them? Do they have an answer? Is an answer expected?) Dood for thought! Very well-written.


  2. ICU is a scary place ,I wish that all of us eat well ,exercise and stay away from drugs and alcohol and be careful while travelling ,so that we need not to visit ICU

  3. A beautiful poem, Phoebe. So interesting to read a doctor’s POV on the I.C.U. setting. And that artwork — gorgeous!

  4. What an interesting poem. Having been “at the mercy of your profession” a few times, I have to think about how I would answer the question at the end of each verse. I have felt trapped and totally under the control of doctors, nurse and equipment …. but I have also felt confident in their abilities, and always human! Restrained, tubes in strange places and no pride anymore… but always human. 🙂

    • I am sorry you have had to be in that position, but I am glad your experience was not too negative, and that you trusted your caregivers to care for you. I hear many negative things about patient care these days that it comforts me when someone shares an experience to the contrary. Though being ill is never a good experience, I hope you’ve always had compassionate caregivers at your side. 🙂

  5. A wonderfully written poem……so much goes on in an ICU and much of it “de-personalizes” the experience for the patient and family alike but if ever there was a VERY personal time, it’s when someone is in an ICU. The body and mind need all the help they can get and the experts are there to provide it………and the encouragement needed to turn the corner back to living life fully.

    Hugs, Pam

    • Yes Pam you are absolutely right. This is when patients and their family are at their most vulnerable…and most in need of genuine care and support. My hope is that patients are really getting this during these times…compassionate doctors, caring nurses…and not feeling like they are being treated like ‘just a number.’ That is my hope. 🙂

      Best wishes to you and Sammy in the New Year! 😀

      Hugs, phoebe and samantha

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