These are our new churches
where life is declared done
or pulled out squalling
with that first breath forced
with a slap on the ass
and the heart’s calligraphy
is charted for the elect
that can read its flights
in ritual healing
of the celebrants
with shaved heads
and radiation tattoos
waiting for a cure
that kills, but more slowly
than the disease
blooming quietly under skin
(there is a reason
we call them patients–
because they are always

these moments, sacred
and shrouded in mystery
are now visible under
the shadow on the stomach wall
photographed in three dimensions
in color, as our robed high priests
and priestesses
pass flesh off fields, sterile
to the altar of frozen sections

and if that heart pauses
without permission
they will restore its leaping
through paddles
on a chest

and what is more magic than that
giving back life and sustaining it
on machines


For the Panda’s naughty challenge.


About Susan L Daniels

I am a firm believer that politics are personal, that faith is expressed through action, and that life is something that must be loved and lived authentically--or why bother with any of it?
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31 Responses to iatrogenesis

  1. Bruce Ruston says:

    great stuff Susan really enjoyed it

  2. ruleofstupid says:

    My only disappointment is the seamlessness with which this is stitched 🙂
    A cure that kills more slowly – yes, I’ve had this thought before – the strange things we do in the name of a cure!
    Yes, feeble Mrs Daniels, feeble!!

    • Oh, you are too kind, calling this feeble, which says it has some strength in it at all (how’s that for hubris masked as humility? I think I can out-brit a brit…). Loved the prompt, Mike, and thanking you for it. My business involves a lot of this–dealing with the treatments that kill. Sigh.

  3. Whimsy Mimsy says:

    I think you did a fantastic job with this!!

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  5. unfetteredbs says:

    fabulous Susan. I love the Church and body metaphor. What lurks beneath..

    • Oh, gosh, Audra, thanks. Had to go the medical/spiritual route, since you and Panda elevated the fun and Bruce did whatever it is that Bruce does to make everything he touches sparkle…

  6. Wow Susan! Your play with words astounds me!

  7. mobius faith says:

    This is pure genius!!

  8. nelle says:

    So much better a purpose than machines of destruction.

  9. davidtrudel says:

    Some years ago, a colleague with a clinical background introduced this word into the tightly focused world of the bureaucracy we then inhabited. It was immediately seized upon as a useful concept, as we extended it from the medical world to social policy. Another fabulous write Susan!

  10. Job accomplished – praise given (enjoyed and excellently written) – I just don’t know how you come up with so many, it boggles this wee brain. 🙂

  11. Miriam E. says:

    just LOVE this passage:
    These are our new churches
    where life is declared done
    or pulled out squalling
    with that first breath forced
    with a slap on the ass
    … what a way to start. wonderful work, Susan – love it.

  12. Pingback: My city the body – Poem prompt response | Stephen Kellogg's Blog

  13. Another ace up your sleeve which you delivered so well. 🙂

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