Two Poems by F.M. Lupinetti

Flavian Mark Lupinetti, a poet, fiction writer, and cardiac surgeon, received his MFA from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. His work has appeared in Bellevue Literary Review, december, Redivider, Sheila-Na-Gig, and ZYZZYVA. Mark lives in New Mexico.

Back to by professional poets

GSW Chest

A lung desecrated by a bullet

spawns a perfect crimson bubble,

preternaturally stable, surface

galvanized by pulmonary proteins.

As these spheres blossom

between tension-torqued ribs,

coral foam flows

from mouth and nose

and makes it hard to apprehend

the victim’s words, “Some dude.”

Begin by sticking a tube into the pleural space,

and appreciate the paradox:

an assault on the chest

performed to treat

an assault on the chest.

Lots of blood coming out means a trip

to the OR stat, a consequence

surpassingly rare.

More commonly, merely watch

as the jar accumulates mostly air, some fluid.

Then call for the X ray.

While waiting–waiting way too long,

it always feels–for the radiology tech,

decide whether to

stick a breathing tube down

the throat.  Expressions of gratitude,

if any, can wait until later. 

Wilfred Owen wrote of

blood gargling from lungs gassed,

or shredded by shrapnel,

or ripped by bayonets.

Not gurgling, no.  Nor

bubbling, babbling, rippling, splashing. 

Witness the victim’s desperation,

his urge to clear his trachea

competing with the horror

of propelling more of his blood

into the blue plastic basin

thoughtfully placed beside his cheek by

an overworked nursing assistant.

You are witness now, so

write your barely legible prose.

In the box marked Diagnosis on

the urine-colored form, scribble “GSW Chest.”

At last arrive at the hardest part.

Decide whether to open his chest or to observe.

Maybe the job is done,

No exploration required. 

How close to the heart did the bullet pass as it went in?

How close as it traveled out? 

How fast the pulse? 

How high the pressure? 

How oxygenated the finger or the earlobe? 

Note the dragon tattoo, and

resolve to reassemble the beast

if a thoracotomy comes to pass.

Don’t think of competing with Owen

or the ink of the anonymous artist.

Rather stick with the practical:

Operate now, at three a.m., when it’s

easy to round up a scrub nurse, a first

assist, and an anesthesiologist?

Or watch, wait, and risk having to compete

with the OR’s elective schedule.

With cases filling every slot

from dawn to late at night,

you’ll have a devil of a time

getting an operating room at seven.

Best decide this minute.

Thoughts and Prayers

I feel profound distress and you should know

this violence has caught me unawares.

A politician, I must take pains to show

myself as one of those who truly cares.

You can anticipate how my response will go:

“I offer my sincerest thoughts and prayers.”

The neatest thing about promoting prayers

is assuring I provide a pretty show.

My constituents observe me unawares.

It’s all horseshit, and they don’t seem to know.

To the gun lobby, if anybody cares,

is where my loyalties will always go.

I suppose that on TV I’ll have to go

and pretend that there’s some benefit to prayers,

something tangible and useful, and I know

the viewers will believe me, unawares.

My pious acting boosts the ratings of the show,

pleasing the sponsor, the one who truly cares.

Perhaps my candor has captured you unawares,

accustomed to how dissembling speakers go.

Feel free to quote me–I haven’t any cares–

or take a picture, and please be sure to show

me kneeling, reciting heartfelt prayers.

The PR value’s vast, of this I know.

Some spoilsports will surely aim to show

I’m disingenuous responding to their cares,

apathetic how the next event will go. 

But have they even tested saying prayers?

They have no faith, but they purport to know

the fate of future victims unawares.

As time goes by, folks redirect their cares.

Their memories are short, and I should know.

An added benefit of advocating prayers:

I can credit them for how the good things go.

Religiosity trumps my opponents unawares.

My reverence sells a sure-fire winning show.

Wherever you go and whatever your cares,

don’t be caught unawares.  It’s better to know

there’s no better show than your thoughts and your prayers.

Flavian Mark Lupinetti, a poet, fiction writer, and cardiac surgeon, received his MFA from the Vermont College of Fine Arts.  His work has appeared in Bellevue Literary Review, december, Redivider, Sheila-Na-Gig, and ZYZZYVA.  Mark lives in New Mexico. 

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March 13, 2024 6:36 pm

Powerful poem. A voice undiluted with sentimentality. His words are spoken from the “trenches” of a cardiac surgeon’s day.

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