Little Pharma on Rooms

Laura Kolbe

She thinks in a smaller hospitalShe would remember each faceWith some embarrassmentShe can remember all the rooms1421From whose eaves pigeons tumbleIts permanent winter of shitWhere she would like to put a thin strip of suspended gardenSomething in love with guano like haySome ruffling infancy of color707Where a couple lay in bed, one sickThe two now faceless in ozone hoodsThe room wore its stretch of curtainTight and broad like a bandeau in JuneUnspeakable honeymoonRinging for ginger ale all the time1603With its own sitting roomA surplus of telephonesOne almost expects a little home barSilver shakers a cigarette tray707Where a couple lay in bed— was the smaller one sickIs that just farm logic —Its stretch of green curtainSmooth and stiff like a banker's lampAmortizing a fixed account830She thinks somehow she belongs thereIts shadows and somnolence appeal to herThe clock runs behindThe television sometimes stuck on a MassJust its own digestionPlasma and diodeIt is what she will ask for when sick1118Snow falls to waterThe nurse's badgeClicks on the bedrail with a bell's treadThe green fixtures spell nauseaLike a lighthouse one sees the swingBegin before the beam's upon

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Laura Kolbe is a writer, physician, and medical ethicist in New York City. Her debut poetry collection Little Pharma won the Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize and was published by University of Pittsburgh in 2021. Her work has been awarded the Iowa Review Prize and featured in Best American Poetry, and has been supported by fellowships from MacDowell and the James Merrill House.

"This first book of poems by writer, doctor, and medical ethicist Laura Kolbe is vital and urgent, tempered by wit and layered language."
LitHub

"Following in the footsteps of other doctor-poets, such as Rafael Campo, Fady Joudah, and Seema Yasmin, Kolbe creates fresh perspectives on the unceasing triage between health, wellness, and wholeness."
Booklist

"Laura Kolbe is a physician by training, and her first book of poetry, Little Pharma, displays the kind of precision you’d expect from a doctor-poet. . . . Seeing truly is a professional imperative for the doctor, a moral imperative for the poet. It’s a matter of care, and Little Pharma displays care, tact, and truth in every poem."
Commonweal Magazine

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