By Jack Coulehan
Medicine Stone, by Dr. Jack Coulehan, is a collection of poems that looks at the world through the eyes of a physician and poet and is about human nature and human frailty of both mind and body. The book is divided into three sections. The title section, “Medicine Stone” contains poems with medical themes from the perspective of both doctors and patients. The writer and physician Anton Chekhov, who holds a special fascination for the author, is the subject of the second section, “The Cherry Orchard, ” and “First Ascent of the Future” is about the history of science and human culture, which is populated by Keats, Whitman, Darwin, Ishi, as well as by anthropology and current events and reflections on family life, experiences, and dreams.
Although the book is divided into parts, there are qualities that inform and strengthen the poems consistently. These are clearly intelligent, sensitive poems by an educated and compassionate man. The style is straightforward but often ironic, with moments of anger and pain balanced by moments of humor. And throughout the collection we meet and remeet the inevitable enemy, death.