Prior Auths

Jan 21, 2018

Funny how fast we become prisoners with lost convictions as we fill out the forms, patients getting sicker while they wait.

After seven days in bed with the flu

and seventy episodes of The Wire,

the word “prior” flashes me back

to corner boys with priors

serving an extra five at Jessup.

Funny how fast we become

prisoners with lost convictions.

Just look at me. I miss a week

at the office and prior auth forms

pile up faster than a stack of subpoenas

in criminal court, me in a flat-screen cell,

no memory of when this hardware

first blocked my view of the sky,

bureaucrats stealing my hours,

devious as Westside drug lords

who smuggle product into prisons-

powders packed in condoms

stuffed up a girlfriend’s pink purse.

I moan, fill out the forms, my patients

getting sicker while they wait,

my captive colleagues and I

banging our tin cups for mercy,

all of us serving life.

Dr. Berlin is Senior Affiliate in Psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. E-mail: Richard.Berlin@gmail.com. His most recent collection of poetry, PRACTICE, is published by Brick Road Poetry Press.

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