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The first migraine-plagued caveman

who countered his aching cranium

with crudely pounded flint (and lived)

surely shared his medical breakthrough.

Headcutting is old as woodcutting.

Aztec shaman or Greek physician,

a good doctor knew the value

of airing out a fevered brain.

In dark ages before Lister and Pasteur,

chirurgeons didn’t know a virus

from a curse, but they needed a name

for the rusty saw they used to open

a blow-swelled skull: the trepane

saved careless courtiers from coma.

Modern surgeons’ steel is clean, but treat

tyro trepanation with trepidation. Teen

mystics sing high of tuning third eyes

and praise their cordless doorknob drills

for opening new windows of perception

even as they lie blinded, bacterial feasts.

Lucy A. Snyder frequently escaped into Clive Barker's worlds when she was in darkest academia pursuing her MA in journalism. She is the author of Sparks and Shadows, Installing Linux on a Dead Badger (from which Strange Horizons has published an excerpt), and the forthcoming Del Rey novel Spellbent. Her writing has also appeared in publications such as Farthing, Masques V, Chiaroscuro, Greatest Uncommon Denominator, and Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet. You can learn more about her at
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