He Takes the Course in Advanced Cardiac Life Support

Stone, John

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Annotated by:
Woodcock, John
  • Date of entry: Aug-17-2001


Beginning with its epigraph ("Some patients who have been resuscitated request that they not be rescued should they die again"), this poem explores several points along the boundary between life and death. The male subject is giving mouth-to-mouth artificial respiration to a female training dummy with "an ample chest."

After a while he notices the similarity of his motions to those of "the little death" (a euphemism for sexual climax). For all that, he tires and "she" "dies"--i.e., the tape (a cardiogram?) issuing from her side stops unwinding. When he tries to get up, he discovers that his leg is asleep, which prompts a final musing on the experience of being just about to die.


After the amusing beginning with its sexual analogue, this poem moves to its true, more existential, focus on a life's imagined final moment, when one might not be sure whether one is dying and might not be sure of one's feelings about it.

Primary Source

In All This Rain


Louisiana Univ. Press

Place Published

Baton Rouge