January 2005 / Volume VI / Issue I
Jason Floyd Williams

modern health-care.

He’s gotta couple granddaughters, teenagers
by now, that he’s never seen–
Yet, he’s willing to donate cash to
the top scholars & best athletes
among the local Boy Scout ranks.

He was doing this last week–
Standing behind a podium, walking
down marble steps, handing out
personal checks, until he
slipped & egg-cracked his
skull on the stairs.

He passed out.
He laid on the floor like a
fallen Santa Claus or a sucker-punched
Blake painting.

My grandmother got his
telephone call from the hospital
around 3am.

She beat-out insomnia & its
awkward partnering with
sleeeping pills & low fat ice cream
to join John at the ER.

The story pebble-skips past
the drive there to the stroll
from the parking lot to
the hospital.
“I was walking behind an
elderly Jewish couple & then
we noticed a few hoodlums
near the entrance.
I was anxious & worried until
I realized we were 2 old Jews
& one insane woman versus
4 black thugs.
I think we could’ve taken ‘em,
& if we couldn’t, they probably
realized we were poor
& had old vaginas.”

The front of the hospital
is the Home & Garden, botanticaal
cheerleader you’d like to fuck–
It’s a perfect place, colorful, &
that’s all you notice.
Everything else is a sloppy joe.
And inside the hospital it’s a mealworm;
the potato salad you’ve forgotten in
the fridge; a Joan Collins robot.

John & my grandmother
waited 4+ hours in the
hospital hallway.
His head kept leaking blood
& he curbed consciousness
like a feral dog.
Finally, he started talking
to his hallway neighbors about
the “fucking doctors” &
their priority lists.
“Well,” my grandma told me,
“one tubby nurse–  a guy around
400lbs–  went & told the
doctor what John said.
And the doctor stopped whatever
she was doing–  massaging hearts,
or scooping brains back in– &
came out & lectured John
about his language.
It was all too ridiculous.
Once the doctor left,
John called the blabby nurse
a wimp & a tattle-tale.
And another nurse went
& told the same doctor a
patient was talking trash.”

“You’re kidding me?”

“Nope. The doctor came out again,
and, a little more forcifully, reinterated
her original speech.”


“Yeah, it was horrible.
We’re not going back.
But I did steal
a stethoscope.”