Pulse newmasthead 10th anniv 2252x376px

Welcome to Pulse

Telling the personal story of health care...by and for everyone--patients, health professionals and students of narrative medicine.


new subscription

Join the 11,000+ who receive Pulse weekly

energize subscription 
Energize your subscription
with a contribution and
Pulse vibrant

Readers tell us their stories...
This month... COVID-19

His uneasy truce with cancer
was shattered by
the seizure,

awakening confused
in a side-railed bed.
He lies quiet, astonished

by the speed of change,
still hearing echoes of
his home.

I sit silently by his side
as he reads the ceiling tiles,
the monitors,

the endless loop of passing
nurses, tries to do the math.
He knows the seizure

is the fulcrum,
but must it also be
the tipping point?

Like an ice-bound schooner
the pressure of the facts grinds
against his bony skull,

every tempting open lead
a lie. He had been a sailor,
knew the doldrums

of the Sargasso Sea,
suspended in baking heat,
prospecting for a cloud,

harbinger of wind’s release,
bobbing between hope
and resignation,

each tide slipping backwards
and knowing that, he knew
there was no good face here.

About the poet:

Richard Weiss is an internist and gastroenterologist, and a member of the Hudson Valley Writers' Center and the Cleaveland House Poets of Martha’s Vineyard. His poetry has appeared in Pulse, in The Westchester Review  and in the anthology Let the Poets Speak. He lives with his wife Maggie in Armonk, NY.

About the poem:

"The poem was inspired by the long struggle that my close friend, also a physician, had in accepting a terminal illness. His courage in facing its reality, knowing quite well its hopelessness yet living each day with humor and wisdom, inspired me to write several poems, this being one of them. Another was read at his funeral service."

Poetry editors:

Johanna Shapiro and Judy Schaefer


# Andrea 2014-07-26 18:43
Wow!! Thank you.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
# barbara young 2014-07-26 14:29
What a beautiful, beautiful poem. Dr. Weiss, the love you had for your friend just shines through. May more and more physicians come to share your humanity, an eye to see and an ear to hear.

Thank you.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
# muriel murch 2014-07-25 19:43
Lovely poem. Somehow very visual. Congratulations .
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
# Robin Schoenthaler 2014-07-25 17:09
Great piece, thank you!
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
Our latest...

Pulse: Editors' Picks


a vibrant anthology of stories and poems


Foreword by Perri Klass MD and Sketches by Alan Blum MD


"Pulse is that rare confluence of the best of medicine and modern life...This anthology is a total pleasure." Louise Aronson MD


Now available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble




mainencounterspicEncounters, our latest feature: Patients talk about their healthcare experiences and share stories about their lives outside the doctor's office.

Latest Comments

Pulse Links