Smith, Dave

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack
  • Date of entry: Dec-09-1996


The patient lies in the hospital after having a stroke. The "word" is the patient's best friend, but suddenly it's become what "you can't say." "You lie flat / in the white yards of the clinic" unable to find the word. Like a dog, it "drags its chain over the emptied / bowl, barks," but the patient is unable to call it or command it. The stroke victim must simply wait and listen.


An extended metaphor: the word as a friendly old dog who comes when called; the mute patient, no longer able to call his dog. The most terrifying aspect of a stroke--the loss of language, the inability to communicate. See also Jack Coulehan's Irene in this database.

Primary Source

The Roundhouse Voices: Selected and New Poems


Harper & Row

Place Published

New York