Iowa Writes

JOHN CASTEEN
Murmur


I've always had this hole inside my heart,
it's literal, and every two years needs
machines with cords taped onto me and plugged
by nurses with their gelid hands. In truth

it's never caused me trouble, or not much.
I need my prophylaxis certain times,
like anybody; don't much mind gray eyes
of residents who promenade to see

(or, rather, hear) my fault when I'm laid out
for show. I'm clinical; I'm teachable.
They have to use their stethoscopes like men
on subs use pings to find the enemy.

I've always had this hole inside my heart,
it's literal, and every two years needs
machines with cords taped onto me and plugged
by nurses with their gelid hands. In truth

it's never caused me trouble, or not much.
I need my prophylaxis certain times,
like anybody; don't much mind gray eyes
of residents who promenade to see

(or, rather, hear) my fault when I'm laid out
for show. I'm clinical; I'm teachable.
They have to use their stethoscopes like men
on subs use pings to find the enemy.

Have always been ventricular, septal, and defective
to them. Which suits me fine. I like to know
they squirm when asked to pin it down, and watch
my small systolic/diastolic cycles misfire

on television. Every time there's that suck
and whistle, leading to the next, referring
to the first, which speaks to the last. My own
inefficiency. The exegesis white-coats try

and try to learn: my fast, off pulse. Heartstutter.
Like murmured things old women said at cards
when I was small: Good night, they said. Great day
in the morning.
And, Lord, Lord. Lord have mercy.

more

About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting iowa-writes@uiowa.edu


JOHN CASTEEN

John Casteen and his wife lived in Iowa City for two years while he was a student in the Writers' Workshop. While in the state, he says, he became "a great admirer of Iowa's daylilies." Currently, he is self-employed as a designer and builder of custom furniture. His poems have been published in Ploughshares, The Georgia Review, Shenandoah, and The Southern Review.

"Murmur" appears in the current issue of The Iowa Review (37/1, Spring 2007).

This page was first displayed
on May 17, 2007

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