A Sonnet for 750-pound man John Keitz (1966-2005)

By Nancy Devine

“’Tis not content so soon to be alone.”
— John Keats 1795-1817

He was never swaddled in his own skin
nor swimming in the adipose tissue
beneath, white and undulating within,
microscopic beauty no one knew,

an abstract painting hidden too deep. He
wasn’t cocooned in folds of flesh, mottled
by bed sores, their shadows he’d never see
cast on his sheets, intaglio that held

no relief. He hadn’t walked nor gotten
out of bed for years, rolled over alone.
He hadn’t left his left side, had forgotten
when his then was—the day his heart, flesh, bones

were crushed by agony like leaden clouds:
John Keitz’s body his heaviest shroud.


Nancy Devine teaches high school English in Grand Forks, North Dakota where she lives. Her poetry, short fiction, and essays have appeared in online and print journals.