Poem for Display in a Hospital Waiting Room

This entry is part 6 of 14 in the series Public Poems


The doors swing
both ways; be careful.
From either side,
the other looks like out.
This mystery your body
is like a Klein bottle,
all surface, no way in.
From the inevitably
flawed models, it appears
to intersect itself:
it dwells within the without.
That’s why the wind —
or is it breath? — can’t
be held, & you need
a fourth dimension
to lose those edges
called sickness,
to become whole.

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).


  1. Gorgeous, Dave. Those first lines are breathtaking because they’re so simple but they pack such a wallop.


  2. I haven’t warmed to this series the way I did the “tool” series, but this poem is a real beauty.


  3. Joan – Yes, it is a mental workout, isn’t it?

    Rachel and sarah b – I’m surprised to hear you liked this one, actually. It’s my least favorite of the series so far!


  4. I guess it reminds me of the day, many years ago, when I was leaving the hospital with my brand new daughter, and a very very old person passed me in her hospital robe, and we exchanged a look that said it all.


  5. That right there would make a far better poem that my arid metaphysical exercise.


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