Jessica Goodfellow

On My Diagnosis of Pulsatile Tinnitus
April 24, 2023 Goodfellow Jessica

On My Diagnosis of Pulsatile Tinnitus


Ever since I started hearing my heart
beat in my left ear, I know I am aLIVE
aLIVE aLIVE. When above the din
in my head I mishear ‘I want to melt
all the guns’ as ‘I want to smell
all the guns,’ I think: That is what this is—
smelling all the guns, licking the fuses
of every bomb ticking every breath. It’s time
to believe again in God, the clock
in my left ear warns, the one I want
to silence. As Gertrude Stein said:
Repetition is a form of change. As though
my head has not already turned
into one of those ancient candle clocks,
marks scratched at even intervals
in the wax, so that when time is up,
the clock itself disappears.
As Gertrude Stein said: Repetition
is a form of change. I am iambic:
my head’s internal wind
is also its windshield wiper,
also my mind’s metronome,
the taxi meter of my body ticking
as it carries me to where it is going
to let me out.


PSA: The condition of hearing your own heart beating in your ear(s) is called pulsatile tinnitus. While in some cases there is no treatment, in other cases it is a symptom of a more serious underlying condition. Please consult your doctor if you experience pulsatile tinnitus.

Jessica Goodfellow’s books are Whiteout (University of Alaska Press, 2017), Mendeleev’s Mandala and The Insomniac’s Weather Report. Her work has appeared in Best American Poetry, Scientific American, The Southern Review, and Verse Daily. She is a former writer-in-residence at Denali National Park and Preserve and a recipient of the Chad Walsh Poetry Prize from Beloit Poetry Journal. Jessica lives in Japan.