Bandages, Bullets, and Blasphemy

Alexander Frank '20


You arrive in a rush—

coffee breath—

mind filled

with the “I will”

of the Hippocratic Oath—

Scoring boot marks

into the dusty concrete.

You are the first.

Guttural moans and the acidic tang of copper.

Gray curtains and brown paneled walls;

There, a Haemanthus blooming in a barren field—

A violent crimson red.

He is on his back—arched—

fingers splayed as if resisting a pull

To heaven.

Blood rains from his fingertips.

You kneel in blood next to him.

Three holes – each the size of your thumb—

Punched in a line.

Your stomach twists and

wraps in your throat.

The oath – don’t forget

your oath.

White gloves snap and

you place your calloused hands on his stomach

and push.

You can feel it—It comes in pulses,

rolling up your arms.

You press even harder.


It wells up between your fingers and the

Crimson drowns the white.


You peer through the glass

Into a room filled with bound books;

A man there goes through each one,

Holding each page between his thumb

And his forefinger—some marked with tears.

Piles sit at his feet, torn and worn—‘65 to ’17;

Ink runs onto the floor.

Your partner lights a cigarette by the window,

The hot orange light beading in the man’s milky eyes.

He begins to cough—lightly.

Then like gravel,

bloody bubbles bursting deep in his throat.


Your partner quietly grinds out his cigarette

on the windowsill.

After all these years,

it’s still hard to watch someone die.