Picture of Benjamin HuangBenjamin Huang
University of British Columbia
Class of 2017

This spoken word was written after the death of a friend as a reflective means to express the feelings and questions one might have coming from a medical background and frame of mind. In particular, the poem explores how medicine, religion, and poetry itself may be part of one’s search for closure, but also how closure may not always be found.


Medical School is where i learned that:
The Key To Self-Care As A Professional Physician Is In Practicing The Art Of Self-Reflection.
but in my sleeplessness i’m tired of staring at my
thoughts                                                           all
over                                                               the                                            place,
unable to write, my fingers only finding the broken keys
like the way i can break up the smile in a simile
it amounts to a mountain of imagery but at the summit’s summary,
i find myself saying nothing.  i should have said something.
how can you heal someone when you are part of the disease?
she knew, she must have known that
deep down we are all children reaching with dirty hands to grasp the cookie jar,
earnestly longing for more ice cream before we have to go home
where Our Father is.

her name was Suicide.
actually, her name was j.  and she was lovely.

the weighty silence depresses me, pressing keys into WordPress
i can’t press my finger on it but
i’m pretty sure something’s wrong, pretty sure a strong
ulcer is undermining my stomach lining, redefining the intertwining
tasteful meanings of “bitter/sweet” into a mellow melancholic mash.
her name was j,
and she was the passion of Paris packed into a small frame
like a faint candlestick, waxing and waning, pooling in puddles
cooling to create beautiful things. like her special ketchup tortellini.

ICU and your broken heart, a piece of art splattered and splayed across the physician’s table;
it seems the mind is a mystery where all the gray and white matter
but he prescribed the wrong treatment,
and i mistreated her.
M.D. (To Be) now N-U-M-B
i’d rather spell these letters than read their meaning on my degree;
envelope them in play-rhyme, sealed like that clock against the wall, ticking:
a \ b \ c \ d \ e \ f \ g \ h \ I – imagine
she must have had dreams: beautiful, inescapable little creatures woven into the tapestry of life,
but Suicide is a scarlet spill soaking into the softly sewn fabric.
Suicide leaves behind a husband, a daughter, a son.
and questions.
should i have said something? could i have?

she lingers in memories like a post-credit scene on replay,
except the film is finished and its secrets have been spoiled.
sometimes closure is unavailable,
like the friend i seemed to be.
i can’t shake these stains of scarlet off my sleeves;
Medical School is where i learned that
some lives just don’t end cleanly. they just