I can smell the medicine— brown as decaying roots
Twisting their heads for a thirst, I am fever dry;
Skin gray on a white body, creeping like a nun, bruised
In a water-sump basement, fish puddle in a glass.
I have married a cupboard of remedies,
Sipping cure-alls from bottles, poultice in an armpit,
Bowels unfamiliar, wallowed down a drain.

I can smell death— salt weed on a black wall
Peeling off like stench injuring a life;
My skin is an onion, unraveling flesh prickling a gauze.
Each movement is a red fist bleeding me;
Down here, bugs save me for a mouth,
Gnaw me to a white bone. I am in a damned condition,
Shriveling into a prayer, into a crock of dust.

I am shallow breathing, coffined in a lung. White walls
Now; angels carrying paper bags with my remains.
Empty, I echo to a memory; I exhale it like a scent.
The stain of it, dirty as a fever; my soul steps from it,
Like old ailments from an agony. Death has no mercy
For anyone. He lures like a blind man.
I wheeze at the gate from a run, slumped into holiness.

Copyright © 09/22/18 lance sheridan®

52 comments on “Medicine

  1. smilecalm says:

    powerful medicine 🙂

  2. I read this server all times. Each time I felt something new and in awe of your imagery…Thank you Lance… this medicine is perfect 😊

  3. MOMENTS says:

    Lance, this poem is so wonderfully written like all I have read by you until now. However, this one especially touches me today. You are great at describing the smell of medicine and death, the anguish and the dark hour. It is interesting how you personify death as a man: “…Death has no mercy/ For anyone. He lures like a blind man.”

  4. Mary Mangee says:

    You truly have a gift. Your words are so refined and they flow with such description and imagination.

  5. Chris Hall says:

    Brilliant use of language!

  6. kaddietucker says:

    He waits just around the corner for all of us…greedy bastard.
    Great work, Lance.

  7. Oh my…starkly vivid sick room imagery..powerful in its gnawing decay. You are always surprising!

  8. Karima, so greatly appreciated; as I greatly appreciate your writing!

  9. I like so much each line of the poem.

  10. ssfrerking says:

    A scary portrait of our corporeal frailty.

  11. You capture perfectly the aging and illness we dread.

  12. tara caribou says:

    Oh wow, Lance! This is good!

  13. And, thank you for your work, Anna, which is a beacon of light for so many!

  14. Extraordinary imagery.
    Profound, I love it.

  15. Lona Gynt says:

    In both “Wit’s End” and “Medicine” we see entire stanzas of intractable senescence turned by a small and powerful fulcrum of just a few words at the end. In the first the speaker resolves that just as all other choices are stripped from him, he can still try to touch another soul. On the second, surrounded ambiguously by either remedies or poison, the he has even that last choice of touching another soul stripped away, but in the end slumps not into clear nothingness, but into holiness. Does this reflect the passage into an eternal new life, or is it an ironic negation? That is the question at the center of faith and even hope. Three small words change this from a simple skree into a doorway into larger questions. So beautiful, and masterful Lance. Thank you.

  16. Your description of Death is excellent. He has no favoritism for anyone. All is equal in his eyes.

  17. Wow. You certainly have a way with words….

    “my soul steps from it,
    Like old ailments from an agony”

    I could see and smell and taste and feel each part before I “slumped into holiness” with your character. Well done! 🙂

  18. Is there life after death? Who knows. This poem is extremely powerful in its imagery. I can feel the flesh being stripped from my bones. At my age, it’s too danged close for comfort. But if all poetry catered to our comfort levels, why write at all.

  19. Marta Pinhao says:

    ¡Impresionante la descripción! Felicidades. Abrazo.

  20. etiliyle says:


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