Pain Scale

Risa Denenberg 

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“Describe your pain on a scale of 0-10, with 0 being no pain at all and 10 being the worst pain you can imagine.”
Zero is a sundrenched day in August at the shore,
where you lounge, occasionally glancing at waves
that wave back and demand nothing.
One is a sun-break on an otherwise drizzly morn
Just as the radio serendipitously begins to play
Here Comes the Sun.
Two is a phone call from a friend seeking advice,
which you dispense cheerfully while vigorously
kneading the knots in your neck.
Three is a workhorse drenched with extreme
coffee.  After rummaging for Percocet to no avail,
you gulp down 800 mg of ibuprofen and chase with vodka.
Four is annoying and you verge on being unkind,
but instead you just don’t speak.
Five is an incessant round of electric shocks delivered with a branding iron.
Six is a solid iron rod impaled within your spinal column.
Seven is a dead baby lodged in your chest.
Eight is like nothing you can imagine.
Nine eliminates personhood.
Ten is.  


About the Author

  • Photo of Wynne MorrisonRisa Denenberg is a family nurse practitioner living in Tacoma, WA. She has worked in end-of-life care for many years. She is drawn to exploring themes of suffering and death and their intersections with religion, medicine, and art. Recent poems have appeared online at Soundzine, Umbrella, Sein und Werden, and Escape into Life.






    Published: June 1, 2011