Echo Poems

61M Mid-Systolic Click echo.jpg

61 M, Systolic Click, BAV


Whoever sent you for this test

Was smart to think the sound she heard

Was from a malformed valve:

Two cusps instead of three.


She’ll tell you when you see her next

About what lies ahead:

In fifteen years or so,

An artificial valve.


But will she tell you that the pipe

Beyond the valve

Could crack at any time?

She will not know just what you want to know.


Some facts I wish I didn’t know, like you.

My valve’s bicuspid too.

gift of life image.jpg

Suicide and the Gift of Life


She shot herself,

gun barrel to chin,

aimed up and back.

Surer ways to do

what she had mind to do

when she had mind.


Her heart beats fine,

unaware there is no need

to feed her mangled brain with blood.

Good enough that someone kept alive

by pumps and drugs

will get another chance.


Had she known

it might have changed her mind.

Or then again

it may have made her finally smile.

Left Atrial Myxoma .jpg

43F, Left Atrial Myxoma


Ripe peach,

dangling down,

two weeks late:

will some famer-doctor

through cut

through chest

pluck it off in time

or will the slender stem

snap tonight?   







18M ASH echo.jpg

Medical Examination

Before the Football Season


The doc runs through the guards

and ends and monsters on the line

in fifteen minutes time.

He tells the quarterback to stand,

then squat, then lie back down again,

cold disk of stethoscope

pressed against the chest.

as he listens, listens

to the whishing sound

of blood that slaps against

a wall of muscle jutting out

into the ventricle


and now the boy

is terrified

not about his heart

that could fibrillate

away his life at any time

but that he’ll never

throw a pass again.

palpitations echo.jpg



She thinks this flipping and flopping

is her heart about to break,

that she will drop like dad at 45.


What we doctors fret about

are aching chests, swollen legs,


that’s gone in twenty steps.


We pat her on the head,

send her back to work, think

to ourselves, go get a life.


But tonight awake in my bed

when the clock tolls two

some demon may jump


from my breast bone to

my Adam’s apple

and beat his drums wildly,


and I will think

it is the end.


34F, VAD


Despite his vest

the 32

took your father

through the chest.


They pierced your apex

and jammed

this pump inside,

a thousand times as big.


You live.




VAD: ventricular assist device