Champion of Fright

From starlit shadows, eyes glitter and gleam

The denizens of nightmares start to convene

All fighting to win the very top prize

Of “Champion Frightster” on Halloween night

The race is arranged, and the rules are all set

Every goblin’s face is covered in sweat

But no one show’s mercy — it’s every ghoul for himself

On a Halloween night where few things bodes well

They divide into teams, based on magic and style

The witches and goblins (who’ve been friends for a while)

Against the ghosts and the demons, for quite even odds

They’re the best of the ghouls, the Halloween gods

Some fly to the sky, and rain down sweet hell

While others take down the streets to cast all their spells

It’s a two-front guerrilla war, a free-fire blitz

And soon, friend turns on friend, taking shots, taking hits

On the fight’s final lap, it’s down to just two

A witch and a demon, in the midst of a duel

They throw out their spells with a careful precision

As they both condemn each other with careless derision

But, just as they both fly to the sky

They fall back, unconscious. The race is a tie!

It’s a huge disappointment, to end up this way

The great fight’s a fluke. The ghouls trickle away

And plot once again for the next year’s fight

All of them aspiring to be the Champion of Fright

Don’t Scream

I feel her presence every day

My baby sister, who slipped away

One fine spring day, while no one watched

She left forever to live with God

And how I mourned! And how I cried!

And how I wished I were the one who’d died!

But life works out in its own strange ways

And she was the one who slipped away

Then suddenly, it was Halloween night

The King of Terror, the Champ of Fright

I paced about in my house, alone

No costumes or candies — I was far too old

But still I cowered in my darkened house

With the strength of a ghost, the fear of a mouse

For I’d seen a sight that chilled my bones

My sister stood in the doorway of my beautiful home

I’d slammed the door and shut off the lights

Never had I had such a horrible fright

I ran to the stairs, and started to pace

But, when I glanced up, my heart started to race

My sister was there, right on the stairs

This was no illusion — she really was there!

Her clothes were all bloody, and her eyeballs were black

She looked like a demon — how had she come back?!?!

I stood there, frozen. I didn’t know what to do

Then she smiled, and said, “All of this? It was you!

It was your fault I died, your fault I’m like this.

Don’t bother screaming. There’s not much you’ll miss!”

And after those words, she pounced onto my heart

And, as I lay bleeding, she ripped it apart

She stuffed it in her mouth, as fresh blood dripped down

So juicy and warm that, in my own blood, I drowned

And yet I awoke, on that stone-cold, hard floor

As, through the closed shutters, crept the first sign of morn

There were bloodstains around, and my chest was cut apart

There were ribs and two lungs, but I was lacking a heart

But still I stood up, and turned twice around

Saw the torn curtains and cushions, but I made no sound

And, just when I thought that I was still in a dream

I heard my sister’s laugh. That’s when I started to scream.

The Hospital Mash

I was working on the wards, late one night

When my eyes beheld an eerie sight

For the patient from his bed began to rise

And suddenly, to my surprise,

He did the Mash! He did the Hospital Mash!

He did the Mash! It was a Rounding Smash!

He did the Mash! The Nurses caught on in a Flash!

They did the Mash! They did the Hospital Mash!

From the student lounge in the second floor, east

To the cafeteria where everyone feasts

They all came running, as if towards a code

To get a jolt from my electrodes

They did the Mash! They did the Hospital Mash!

They did the Mash! It was a Call Night Smash!

They did the Mash! The Patients caught on in a Flash!

They did the Mash! They did the Hospital Mash!

Out of the speakers, the voices did ring

Seems they were troubled by just one thing

Instead of calling a code, they called out this:

“What is this madness? Have you forgotten The Twist?”

But it’s the Mash! It’s now the Hospital Mash!

It’s now the Mash! It’s a Triage Smash!

It’s now the Mash! It caught on in a Flash!

It’s now the Mash! It’s the Hospital Mash!

Now everything’s cool, it’s just a Med Student Band

And the Hospital Mash is the hit of the land

For you, the healthy, this mash was meant, too

When you get to the door, tell them Beatrice sent you

Then you can Mash! You can do the Hospital Mash!

And do the Mash! Do the Medical Smash!

Then you can Mash! You’ll catch on in a Flash!

And you can Mash! You can Hospital Mash!

Ah, ooooooooh! Ah, ah, ah, ooooooh!

Never Ends

On dark, silent nights, as I lie in my bed

I see ten-foot demons dance through my head

They squeal and they scream as they feast on my soul

They gnaw through my heart, leave a hollowed-out hole

I can’t see through the darkness, their pull is too strong

They leave me in pieces, wondering where I went wrong

They are ghosts from the past I don’t want to see

But their faces are leering. They are haunting me.

So I fall on my knees, and pray every way

That I know, that I’ve learnt, please, keep these demons away

But nobody listens (or nobody cares)

And the demons roam freely, despite all of my prayers

Until morning breaks, when they all disappear

And then I breathe easy, through the dissipating fear

And I go about my day, until the night falls again

And I fall back into the cycle that never seems to end

Extra, Extra!  

The Train! The Train! The Wheels that Whirl: Click-Clack!

The Train in Marbled White and Gold that Clatters Down the Track!

Watch How It Speeds! The Wheels, So Fast!

It’s Here, Then Gone! You Blink, It’s Passed!

It Goes So Fast, Too Fast, Some Say!

Like a Bullet! A Cheetah! A Teen Runaway!

Oh, Here Comes a Curve!

Look Out! It Swerved!

It Teeters!

It Totters!






The day five-year-old Harry is discharged from the hospital, his mother thanks us profusely. I pay little attention to her gushing compliments; rounds have already lasted four hours, and there are eight of us total on the paediatric team (including the off-service residents and nurse practitioner student). Her attention is focused on the attending, anyway, so it seems safe safe to allow my mind to wander to my presentation the next day, reciting lines in my head as I whirl through invisible PowerPoint slides.

As we were leave the room, however, Harry’s mother tugs on my arm, a silent plea for a moment more of my time. Or a moment, period. Feelings of guilt erupt for not listening to her more closely. She is a kind lady, and a good mother. She deserves more respect.

“I truly meant it,” Harry’s mother says, as the guilt bubbling in my heart surges to a boil. “I can’t thank you enough. Harry loves you, too. You’ve done a lot for us.” Her voice is soft, as if she is sharing a secret. Perhaps she is; Harry’s mother works in the hospital, and is likely acquainted with the rigid hierarchy medical staff adhere to. A compliment to a subordinate in the presence of the wrong attending can effect a living hell. I’ve seen it firsthand.

Her comments surprise me, though. Although Harry is my patient, I know I haven’t been providing the best care for him. Ten months ago, I would have checked on all of my patients five to six times per day, allaying their fears, answering their questions, passing their concerns on to the attending physician. Now, though, Harry is lucky if I came in twice each day.

It isn’t from a lack of empathy, or a lack of interest, or a lack of concern. I spend my days running, always busy, always doing things, yet never seeming to get things done. I know the rumours about medical students: that we’re lazy, we avoid work, we spend all of our time on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and the newer sites whose names I can’t recall. And those are true, just as all Americans drive pick-ups, or all Germans are beer-guzzling drunks. My personal emotional sensitivity is as sharp as ever; it’s as difficult for me to hold back tears now as it was on Day One. I still care, perhaps even more than when I started.

But I am tired. Exhausted. Even as Harry’s mother continues to whisper words of encouragement, I find my focus slipping. On the paediatric service, we are required to contribute 75 hours of work weekly. This does not include the time required for presentations, essays, exams, or off-service teaching sessions. I’d become robotic, functioning with a haze in my eyes which faded only when I fell into the few hours of senseless slumber I was permitted at the end of a nerve-wracking day. A nervous wreck, two blips from an explosion.

“We’ve bought him a D-R-U-M set for his birthday,” Harry’s mother says, watching her son race two tongue depressors across his bed, like boats. “He’s taken a liking to heavy metal and punk rock.”

It was mechanical. Wake up to the alarm, run, run, get to the hospital, run, run, get cursed at, push back tears, run, run, run home, try to study, try to write, fall asleep to nightmares just as the alarm beeped again.

“So, anyway, thank you for everything.” Harry’s mother now speaks so softly, I have to lean in to hear. “You’ll do well in the future. Take care of yourself?”

I smile, lacking the energy to invest in a lie. Nothing is in my control anymore. Certainly not my own well-being.

Yet, why are we whispering, as if all of this is some sort of secret?


Your love is like a distant star

Too far for me to see

It shines too brightly to behold

(at least, apparently)

I wish upon it every night

As I kneel beside my bed

And let the image linger on

In dream-worlds in my head

I know it’s there while sunlight shines

Although I’m blind by day

And I see it shining in the night

Long after it’s burnt away