The Poetry Ward A doctor dispenses poems to patients and medical students.


Toxic sock syndrome. That’s the first thing we noticed when we entered the hospital room. For those gentle readers who are not familiar with such sensory assault, toxic sock syndrome is the clinical term for the rank odor that accompanies damp, fetid feet that have seen more street time than shower time. The patient in front of us displayed all the cardinal signs of a chronic Bellevue Hospital alcoholic: cantankerous mood, matted, stringy hair, stirring halitosis, a W.C. Fields nose, and bone-rattling tremors of the fingers and tongue. He was not especially happy to see our group—one attending physician, two residents, four interns, and six medical students—bunched around his bed, all attired in crisp white coats and equally crisp attitudes. 

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