by Bill Rector

Where, William Carlos Williams,
are your patients?

How in the world, the words,
did you escape

them? Erase
them? In

stanzas succinct
as prescriptions

wouldn’t a few
more fit? Between curved

blades of obstetric
forceps, the book of birth

and death certificates?
White as the door

are they still
there? Waiting

on the heart’s rapid knock,
the hoped-for answer?

Why is your first name
also your last?

(Today’s poem previously appeared in The Offending Adam and appears here today with permission from the poet.)

Bill Rector is a physician practicing in Denver whose poetry has been published in a variety of journals, including Field, Prairie Schooner, The Denver Quarterly, and Hotel Amerika. His book, bill, was published in 2006 by Proem Press.

Editor’s Note: Today’s post is dedicated to Jenny Stella, who, like Dr. Rector and William Carlos Williams, shares her life with both poetry and medicine. Having been at once a poet and a lawyer, I understand what it is to live a life that is both shared and divided in this way. Jenny Stella and I have spent many hours contemplating what it means to inhabit two demanding arenas in life; how an artist can give themselves fully to a professional practice, and how a professional can give enough of themselves to their art. What today’s poem explores is where the medicine itself shows, or does not show, its face in poetry.

Want to see more by and about Bill Rector?
Proem Press
Bill Rector is Poetry Editor of The Yale Journal for Humanities in Medicine
Buy Bill Rector’s book, bill


  1. oh! how a poem can lead one onto a myriad multitude of roads … bill’s poem got me walkin’ … the health condition of WCW, western ‘medicine,’ poetry, healing (or not), courage and kindness, +++ much gratitude to all the (‘Stay Human!’} humans out there!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s