Welcome! In this project we will be posting videos of medics reading poetry from the anthology Tools of the Trade: Poems for doctors published by Scottish Poetry Library and distributed to graduating doctors.  we hope that each reading will provide a seed for informal discussion in a Facebook group set up for this purpose, managed by a group of highly experienced medics.  You can find out more about the project here.

For our very first post we are delighted to have a reading by poet and GP, Martin MacIntyre of his title poem for the collection Tools of the Trade.  As we intend to do for all of the poems we post, we’ve arranged permission to publish both a video reading and the text of the poem below.

Tools of the Trade

New doctors will be empowered by poems
in the pockets of their metaphorical white coats.
There at the ready:
on early, sweaty, scratchy, ward rounds
to deploy while waiting patiently for the consultant’s
….late appraisal;
give filing, phlebotomy and form-filling an edge
….and depth;
sweeten tea-breaks as if with juxtaposed Jaffa Cakes
to answer that persistent bleep – while sneaking a pee,
to travel the manic crash and flat-lined emptiness of
….cardiac arrest
thole the inevitability of the inevitable;
to pace with careful cadence;
stop and breathe usefully
arrive ready not to recite by rote;
to be alone with on the boisterous bus home
to txt anxious Mums and Dads – ‘Are you remembering
….to feed yourself?’
‘YES. LOL. Smiley-face – perhaps a frog?’
to place strategically on the cup-ringed cabinet – first
….night on-call,
thrust under the sun-torn pillow on the morning
….following the first night on-call
find undisturbed, but at a different verse, following the
….jumpy party, following the first night on-call
to steal insights into the science of nurses’ smiles
to prepare for change.
To take a full history, examine closely and reach a
….working diagnosis: ‘You are a human being.’
…..‘The stars sing as whitely as the mountains.’
To investigate with prudence.
To reconsider the prognosis in the light of better-quality
To appreciate; pass-on; ponder
challenge, relinquish,
allow, accept
be accosted by dignity.
To forgive and free.

Martin MacIntyre

by permission of the author

Do you recognize any of the experiences or situations that Martin’s poem describes?

A moderated Facebook group hosts discussion for medics and others who would like to follow up on ideas arising from ‘Poems for Doctors’.

To ask to join, or add to the discussion if you are already a member, please visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/poemsfordoctors/