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.