Medical school reunion



Selected poems


Fifty year reunion

harvested fruits, fresh, we men and women both,

the pick of the academic crop,

innocently green and impatient for ripening

in the august halls of medical school

challenging us, clarion clear,

from latinised hippocratic portals,

'hanc meam artem profitebor cum pietate et sanctitate',

I will practise this my art with purity and holiness.


now, we the remnants, largely spent,

professors, teachers, beloved practitioners,

scientists, world leaders, pioneers,

a menagerie of specialists,

some Australia's honoured citizens,

the sick, the grey, the bent, the pill dependent,

divorcees, the widowed, the saints, the sinners,

bound and equal, together, all as one,


gathered again, searching out new pastures,

denying mankind's stark mortality.

and hovering unseen, absent others, forever joined,

friends, lovers, team mates, husbands, wives,

competitors, those who are no more,

felled by our hippocratic-sworn adversary, disease,

or, in despair, by their own healing hands.

great losses all, memories best unspoken.



The gift

Suspended in sterile light, donated life lies hidden

in dark labyrinthine depths of blown false human breathing,

each breath a charade, a footstep t'wards eternity,

dispensed by humane reasoning at the flick of a fatal switch.


In this now soul-less frame, the harvester of mellowed lifeness,

mask-hid, gloved, and gowned in deluded godliness,

dares cheat death of nothingness, reclaiming life

in sanguine fields rent by pristine stainless steel.


From child-life in flight, the surgeon's frantic pursuit

defiles all that be-ing had made and daring death's dark scythe

reaps a trim renaissance, a lifeless kidney,

pallid-cold, cradled in his resurrecting hands.


This precious parting gift will live again, de facto, incognito,

a-brim with pulsing meaning in a coy and foreign bed,

renewed by hearted welcome in this wrung malaiséd being,

fresh-cleansed, renewed, by a stranger's gift supreme.


oh surgeon,

flaunting godliness,

custodian of gifts divined

from vast depths of God's good graces,

heed dear surrogate, sham divine,

new life is His great gift, not thine.



John Frawley AM is a retired university vascular and transplantation surgeon living in Sydney. With over 70 scientific articles and book chapters in the international surgical literature, he is also the author of four books, including A Surgical Life and Controversy Confusion and Catastrophe: Catholicism in the Wake of Vatican II. His poetry has been published in the Best Australian Poems series.

Topic tags: John Frawley, poetry



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Existing comments

Beautiful, thank you John.
Pam | 19 March 2018

"Fifty year reunion" - I'm glad this memory, at least, does not remain "unspoken", John Frawley.
John | 20 March 2018

You covered a wide range of passed events, feelings, persons, activities, accomplishments etc. with unerring accuracy and good grace. Thank for sharing these memories.
Leonard Tuohy | 20 March 2018

ARS LONGA VITA BREVIS the great misquote. No connection with Sir Les Paterson's portfolio "the Yarts". It had already lost meaning in translation from the original (pardon my phone's lack of a Greek font). hO BIOS BRACHUS hE DE TECHNE MAKRE . . which I render as "Life is brief, but The Craft is vast." Not the craft of my first Alma Mater, University of Melbourne's Conservatorium of Music, nor that of its Arts students, but THE Craft inculcated in M.B.,B.S. Honour this as The First Aphorism of Hippocrates.
james marchment | 22 March 2018


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