Alex Steelsmith



(a quadruple dactyl*)

“Hypochondria is more common in prosperous countries with advanced healthcare,
while the internet age has exacerbated health anxiety by placing vast and unmediated knowledge
in the hands of the average googler.”
The New Statesman

Higgledy-piggledy, jiggery-pokery,
countless potentially serious illnesses
offer a seemingly endless selection of
issues on which we can anxiously dwell.

Though we accumulate personal stockpiles of
pharmacological armamentaria,
somehow we constantly manifest maladies
no medication or treatment can quell.

Doggedly googling, we ponder our possible
symptomatologies etiologically.
Once we discover our ailments, they’re obvious.
Why are physicians unable to tell?

Doctors mistakenly claim our conditions are
idiopathically undiagnosable,
calmly insisting our lymph nodes aren’t swollen, which
only confirms that we’re not feeling swell.

Even our friends might unfairly imagine we’re
over-preoccupied psychosomatically.
Why should it matter that all of our emails use
medical jargon we can’t seem to spell?

Nothing is worse than when people accuse us of
semi-delusional hypochondriasis;
then, more than ever, we question our health and it
worries us sick that we’re clearly not well.

* For more on this new verse form and other variations on the double dactyl, click here.

A writer and fine artist, Alex Steelsmith has coauthored three nonfiction books and numerous articles for various publications, including USA Today. In addition to Light, Alex’s poems have appeared in The SpectatorThe Washington PostThe LyricSnakeskinLighten Up OnlineParody, and other venues. His artwork has been shown in many museums and galleries, and is in the Smithsonian’s permanent collection. He has been a Light featured poet.