Category Archives: Fiction/Poetry

Poem – Mariner

Mariner photo

Journal of the American Medical Association Vol. 313 No. 11 (2015) p. 1171

Entering the body for an autopsy is a precise, medical procedure with scientific purpose. Nonetheless, the soul and spirit of this profound human experience float in the air of the autopsy suite. Journey into the body and into harrowing waters with Dr. Margolis’s poem “Mariner.” Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association this month.

Read the poem here.

What’s Wrong with You – Fiction

What's wrong with you image

What’s Wrong with You

by Ben Margolis

Ars Medica Vol 10, No. 1 (2014), p. 142-146

Author’s note: caution, graphic content


“What’s wrong wit’ you?” asked the shopkeeper.

“Ain’t nothin’ wrong with me,” scowled Mr. Jackson as a flap of skin unfolded across his chest. Hinged at the side like an armoire door to Mr. Jackson’s body, the flap opened at the breast bone, curling outward towards his left arm….

Read the full piece:

What’s Wrong with You (pdf)

What’s Wrong with You (on-line)


Poem: Invitation

Med Humanities (British Medical Journal) 2013;39:72 doi:10.1136/medhum-2012-010312

Ben Margolis


I will show you grief.

Look here.

You want to see?

The open refrigerator door frames the lovers.

Just this way.

Follow me.

We’re almost there.

You will stand with me by the side.

You will have to look down—it’s private.
[one_half] But can see from the corner of your eye.

A cold visitation deep in the quiet maze of the hospital basement. Just myself witness. Best man to half an alter-vow fading under caresses. Now you along side.

‘Can I cut a piece of hair?’ she asks, no longer knowing what was hers. Crush hold memento.

‘Of course, or we can take care of that for you’. I would start the case as soon as she finished. An intrusion of strong gloved hands and calculating blades waiting.

The hair was her final quiet request, but the visit had started with a scream. Mrs. Paznyk had seen her husband immediately after he had died, but not since, now a day later.

‘Close his eyes! Close his eyes! Close his mouth! Stop it!’ Eyes as wide as his, mouth not quite, body pulled back. She was unprepared for rigor mortis’s play. Swift sculptor of all dead. No embalmer’s rewinding art yet.

‘It’s part of death’.

‘Ok. It’s part of death. It’s part of death. It’s better this way. It’s normal’. Recoiled pain and suffering stuffed into calmed adult readiness. But still bruising, tearing under the surface.

We had agreed on 15 minutes for this last viewing. It made sense to have a start and an end, or she would have remained there, in the cold walk-in, drinking passionate memories and tender commitments from a bottle of Amontillado-laced grief.

I shall leave you here.

If this is what you were looking for.

Unless you would like to meet four year old Javier.

Rolling onto my lap.

‘Read it again!’


‘Ok. I love David. He’s such a bad boy!’

Booga-booga-booga belly!

Nose up to mine.


Hand on book.

‘Read it again!’

You start.



Competing interests None.  Provenance and peer review

Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

Author note:  All names and events are fictional.