He remembers his mother
as everyone in the town does,
hanging from her rope.

Nostalgic for hurting,
he puts one hand in the sun
and the other in the sea,

compares sensations,
and considers the delicate anatomy
of the human neck.
Just one pound of pressure
and a bone breaks
like a strand of pulled glass.

A voice is a series of zeroes and ones,
Its pattern easily mimicked,
but still he sings. The human spirit
is a liquid that tastes like water
kept too long in a metal canteen.

He has books that record
the very moment of death.
He imagines a facsimile
draft in sprawling finger paint
on a kitchen table
somewhere in the Midwest.

He cannot breathe, he never could.
His tongue is finally killing him.
He studies his hands and wonders
where he went wrong.
Everything he touches finds a way to die.

Cameron Witbeck is a 23 year old writer from Michigan. He works as an associate poetry editor for Passages North literary magazine and studies in the MFA program at Northern Michigan University. His work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Cream City Review, Camroc Review, Strongverse and others.

I’ve always loved imagining famous historical characters in the modern world. This poem was inspired when I saw a billboard for a group of smiling medical specialists that said “We heal wounds when wounds won’t heal.” I got this mental image of a Midas-like, working class Hippocrates sitting at a hotel bar, staring at his hands, and I knew that I had to write it.



Copyright 2009