Friday, October 07, 2005

More Hiccups

Walla Walla is such a nice little town. There are gorgeous old 1900-era buildings everywhere, a new trolley system, and a comfy downtown area with shops and nice restuarants and eateries and wineries, as well as a lot of young college students hanging out. I could see living here, or retiring here; or at least visiting again, especially if we could take a train from Seattle (it's bit of a drive).

Dean survived the day without more hiccups (thank goodness). Here's a pair of hiccup poems, that I wrote a few years ago, when I was trying to be funny about medicine and causes & cures. They read out loud much better than on the page.

The Cause of Hiccups

Fizzy mixer, foamy beer,
jalepeno salsa, oyster pate —
even swallowing ice is suspected
of causing the diaphragm’s trampoline
to get a hitch in its giddyup,
making you suddenly suck air.

But that’s not all — as your glottis
slams shut, causing the characteristic hic
followed by ugh — consider
skull fracture, epilepsy, diabetes,
heart attack; don’t forget TB,
bowel obstruction, meningitis, colitis.
And the oddest one — a hair
tickling the eardrum!

Though we don’t know jack,
we’ve plenty of theories.
Our best guess: an annoyance
to the vagus nerve, its wandering course
all over the body the reason
so many things lead to hiccups.

Sunlight, darkness, any sudden change
in the wind. Excitement, stress,
an overfull bladder. They’ve even been said
to be viral in origin, contagious
as yawning. With so many causes,
no wonder there’s no sure cure.

Yet all the studies have shown,
regardless of their origin,
once you’ve hiccupped seven
they won’t quit until
you’ve hiccupped 63.


The Cure for Hiccups

Slowly lick a spoonful of creamy
peanut butter. Sniff pepper
until you sneeze. Inhale five quick breaths
through a wadded wet dishrag.
Light a match and blow it out.
Pinch the back of your shoulder
until it hurts.

And if that doesn’t work, count
all the bald men you know.
Grab your tongue and pull it forward.
Bend over backwards and stroke your throat.
Immerse your face into a bucket of ice water.
Press thumbs against both eyeballs
as long as you can stand it . . .

Or laugh out loud.
Kiss someone.
Ask someone to kiss you,
or to startle you,
or to sock you in the stomach.

If liquor’s handy, gargle.
Drink a salt-rimmed glass with your nose pinched,
with someone plugging your ears.
Drink from the wrong side
standing upside down,
or from a snifter with a steak knife
balanced against your right cheek.

If all else fails: take your clothes off
and run naked on the stairs.
Call a friend long distance
and hang up before she answers.
Bend over and brush your hair forward.
Touch a kitten on the nose.
Eat yogurt with a fork.

The number of cures
is inversely proportional
to the likelihood they’ll work.
Maybe you should just stand and wait.
Read this poem in one breath.


Brian Campbell said...


Have you heard this one, or a variation? It's one of a number of "puzzle stories" I tell ESL students (that's what I do for a living, teach ESL -- it has some odd implications, this being one of them):

The man walked into the bar in Texas. He asked for a glass of water. The barman pointed his gun at him. The man said, "Thank you", and walked out.

Now you're supposed to guess the explanation of this strange and marvelous story... pretty easy in this context...

jenni said...

a hair tickling the ear drum!!

These were cool. Thanks for sharing them.