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Tuesday, May 28, 2024





Deus ex duodenum

By Alana Kugelman

I’m sick like god

I’m sick like invisible but everywhere and really, really hard to explain to nonbelievers


my psalms are the intricate workings of my esophagus,

jargon is my bible; and god said, let there be: hiatal hernia and nissen fundoplication and gastroenterology and ranitidine omeprazole zantac odansetron and, sorry, are you overwhelmed by my faith?


became a believer at fourteen when I woke with hellfire in my gut, skewered through like Sebastian, dry like a Judean Desert, fervent fire–burning bush–in my middle

it was the first time I saw what my god my illness my acid reflux was capable of; now, I pray four times a day and if I forget

mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa


at my core is a church and the organs play daily, to their own tempo with no one at the keys

the stained glass is the sensitive skin at my sternum that the tenet of referred pain says will always be tender

the pews are stitches scarred over, the nave is the neck of it all, choked off by design but no less functional


born into the cult of the ill, my communion is carafate, consumed each night at eleven before I lay me down to sleep

a surgeon slits me open in five places, a stigmata of the stomach but I am not healed; only helped

a doctor lays her palms on me but I am not cured, only clarified

raised in the grace of the constant companion pain I am canonized, Saint Cilia, patron of endoscopies and stoicism

I am anointed in agony, my robe is a hospital gown and my shepherd’s staff the IV stand,

I trudge up a mountain seeking commandments I will ignore for the sake of normalcy


my stomach’s a pit but the lions don’t have lockjaw, they eat me from the inside

and I cannot run, cannot move, cannot jump, cannot dance, cannot sleep cry think feel unless

I behave exactly as told

one misstep and I’ll count pills like rosary beads and hope against hope that the burning will fade


maybe now you understand what I can’t easily explain, why I say: I can’t eat that

it’s against my religion.



Deus ex duodenum

By Alana Kugelman

My name is Alana Kugelman, and I’m a first-year English major. I like fruit and books, and I have blue hair. I think poetry is really cool, and I’m glad there are so many opportunities for student work to be shared on campus.


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Graphic by Jennifer Wu


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