Comfort Measures Only: New and Selected Poems, 1994-2016

Comfort Measures Only: New and Selected Poems, 1994-2016

by Rafael Campo


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In Comfort Measures Only, Rafael Campo bears witness to the unspeakable beauty bound up with human suffering. Gathered from his over twenty-year career as a poet-physician, these eighty-nine poems—thirty-one of which have never been previously published in a collection—pull back the curtain in the ER, laying bare our pain and joining us all in spellbinding moments of pathos. The poet, who is also truly a healer, revives language itself—its sounds channeled through our hearts and lungs, its rhythms amplified through the stethoscope—to make meaning of our bewilderment when our bodies so eloquently and yet wordlessly fail us. Campo’s transcendent poems, in all their modernity amidst the bleep of heart monitors and the wail of ambulance sirens, remind us of what the ancients understood: that poetry sustains us, and whether we live or die, through what we can imagine and create in our shared voices we may yet achieve immortality.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781478000075
Publisher: Duke University Press Books
Publication date: 09/20/2018
Pages: 184
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

Rafael Campo is Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and author of several books, including Alternative Medicine, The Enemy, and Landscape with Human Figure, all also published by Duke University Press, and The Desire to Heal: A Doctor’s Education in Empathy, Identity, and Poetry.

Read an Excerpt


FROM The Other Man Was Me


El Curandero
FROM What the Body Told


Route 17


Excerpted from "Comfort Measures Only"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Rafael Campo.
Excerpted by permission of Duke University Press.
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Table of Contents

INTRODUCTION: Illness as Muse,
FROM The Other Man Was Me,
El Curandero,
from Song for My Lover,
The Test,
Age 5 Born with AIDS,
Technology and Medicine,
The Distant Moon,
FROM What the Body Told,
Route 17,
The Good Doctor,
Ten Patients, and Another,
Lost in the Hospital,
My Voice,
El Día de los Muertos,
What the Body Told,
FROM Diva,
The Pelvic Exam,
The Gift of AIDS,
The Abdominal Exam,
from The Changing Face of AIDS,
A Death Perplexing,
My Reasoning,
The Mental Status Exam,
Last Rites,
FROM Landscape with Human Figure,
The Couple,
On Christmas Eve,
The Four Humours,
from Afraid of the Dark,
What I Would Give,
FROM The Enemy,
from Eighteen Days in France,
You Bring Out the Doctor in Me,
Tuesday Morning,
On Doctoring,
Sick Day,
FROM Alternative Medicine,
The Common Mental Health Disorders of Immigrants,
Heart Grow Fonder,
The Reading,
Hospital Song,
Faith Healing,
The Third Step in Obtaining an Arterial Blood Gas,
For All the Freaks of the World,
Recent Past Events,
Band of Gold,
Primary Care,
Not Untrue,
On the Wards,
Alternative Medicine,
Without My White Coat,
The Performance,
What the Dead See,
New Poems,
Incidental Finding,
As We Die,
Hospital Writing Workshop,
"Doctors Lie, May Hide Mistakes",
Comfort Measures Only,
The Chart,
Morbidity and Mortality Rounds,
Diagnosis Code,
Ancient Mythologies of Healing,
Treponema Pallidum,
Just Know Your Shit,
Hippocratic Oath 2.0,
On the Beauty of Science,
Poem for Ebola,
Metastatic Colon Cancer,
I Imagine Again I Don't Let You Die,
Swim for Life,
Your Poems Are Never Joyful,
Lessons Not Learned during Medical Training,
Quatrains from the Clinic,
End of Life Discussion,
The Pond,
Hospice Rounds,
Ghazal: By the Sea,
The Stethoscope Replies,

What People are Saying About This

Vivas to Those Who Have Failed - Martín Espada

“The poems of Rafael Campo bear witness to human suffering and transform that witness into art, yet never exploit the suffering or sacrifice the art. Indeed, this is an unflinching eye, seeing what most of us would rather not see. Listen to the beating heart of these poems, the breathing lungs of these poems. The luminous language and the luminous vision offer proof that poetry, too, is a healing art, that storytelling is medicinal. In these times, we need poets of eloquent empathy more than ever, and there is no poet more eloquent or empathetic than Rafael Campo.”

Waiting for the Light - Alicia Ostriker

“Rafael Campo is one acquainted with the night—in detail. Wrestling with the lives and deaths of patients who are always individuals to him, and with his own personal blend of body and soul, love and guilt, compassion and exhaustion, fighting pain with the magnificent weaponry of language and cadence, in poem after poem he says to us what he cannot say to the man in the bed: ‘You’re crying, just like me; you are alive.’”

The World is Round - Nikky Finney

Comfort Measures Only is the exploration of the sonic life of the body synthesized through the pumping amplifier of left and right ventricle. These nearly two hundred pages of twenty years of poetic witness provide a human swallowing test: How hard can we bite down on bone and not break a tooth? How much rose water and blood can we take in without drowning? Rafael Campo believes grace and levitation are possible until the last breath.”

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