Explanation of Benefits

THIS IS NOT A BILL!!!
(Thank God)
This is simply the preface to the bill
so that you can be prematurely pissed off
about who will be taking away your money

 

The EOB outlines the costs
What you owe the doctor
What your insurer owes… someone
What debt your existence owes
to a society that doesn’t really care

 

That Advil pill at the office even though
there’s Advil in a Ziploc in your purse?
Ten dollars. The cup you pee in?
Five ninety-five per ounce
Don’t spill it when you close the window.

 

Does a smile at the reception desk
bankrupt the operation? Imagine a world where
insurance cards do not dictate our worth-
where compassion is doled out, unmeasured
and it’s okay to come back for seconds.

 

Can we quantify the waiting room tears?
The traffic, the tropical island vacation
with family swapped out for appointment slots.
The doctor who is not seeing her lunch break
will see you now, instead.

 

You both are tired of fighting
a system that feels it is better to explain
“benefits” than to explain why
none of this is fair, why your pain
will not break with the fever.

 

We can’t explain why the cancer spread,
its roots strangling the beating heart.
We can’t explain the silent prayers
sent up in parking garages late at night
when the city lights blink off.

 

The explanation of benefits is simple, really:
Sit with us, outside on the sun-bleached bench
On what our brains will dub the Bad News Day
where the whole world stops and all that is left
are the parking garage prayers said outside, together.

 

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Notes

My friend with a high IQ and a poor memory
carries a journal in his back pocket
in which he scrawls seemingly-important
information for the future
gathered from local bars
in the present.

 

Liked: new hipster IPA at Main St. Pizza

Disliked: third slice of pepperoni following 7 new hipster IPAs on a work night

 

I’m big on notes, too.

 

Neon yellow Post-Its decorate my cubicle
Piecing together someone else’s life
Confirmed PTSD stressor: IED blast
resulting in multiple casualties from unit

 

The note in my head remembers that disinfectant
only works on wounds that are visible

 

The notes in my purse
are things I’d like to say at therapy
but don’t always
It’s more organic
to just vomit out words instead
and see where the path takes us

 

The note for Twitter has a lengthy title-
People in the U.S. who have died
due to lack of insulin access:

 

There are three names that we know of
And honor where we can
We hope that note stays stagnant
Never updated again

 

The To-Do list reminds you that
Life’s too short

 

The doctor’s electronic health record
reveals the same thing it always has
Diagnostic codes, plus an afterthought
She’s too smart for her own good and
has made this harder than it has to be

 

The grocery store menu doubles as
a Millennials’ dating app:
-Something healthy
-Something fun and easy

 

The footnote is the hat tip to
Someone likely smarter than you
Whose brain imprinted upon the earth first

 

The Notebook set the highest bar

 

The tattoo was supposed to be a Bible verse
about how nourishment is felt deeper
if you’ve known hunger beforehand

 

The birthday card note reads
Here’s a cute animal photo!
I hope this year is better
You deserve to be happy

 

Tire Pressure

My head hurts

The ache has been there

for a long time now

My heart hurts

The ache has been there

even longer

 

When I tried to voice this

out loud, the words

hovered in-between

the air and my tonsils

like this:

 

“I don’t feel well.

I’ve felt this way for

awhile.”  (Forever).

 

“Let me check the

air pressure of

your car tires

before you drive

away,” he said.

“They’re fine.”

“I’ll check anyway.”

 

As if the quick fix

we’re all looking for

could be quantified by

pounds per square inch,

like a car tire or

the DNA of a human being.

 

Where is the Emotional Bacitracin?

To refill our souls the way

the air plumps up the tires,

so that they can traverse the

great expanse of life

leaving their mark in

the fullest possible way.

 

The Cure

The Cure is the go-to daydream

What we tell ourselves while entwined

in the arms of a lover in a Queen size bed

to calm the “what ifs” circulating in the quiet

 

If we keep calling its name

The Cure The Cure

maybe one day it will hear us

 
If my future hypothetical grandchildren

were to roll their eyes at the thousandth telling

of The Cure story around the campfire

I’d die happy, for they’d only known a better world.

 

 

No Rules Poetry

Portrait of a Millennial Stuck in an Elevator

Doors open.

Push the buttons.

Doors close.

The levers shift with

the weight of it all.

Floor 5, please.

 

Today, it’s Floor Three-and-a-half

stuck somewhere in-between

the black and white, the grey.

 

“Millennials don’t dooo anything!

the Baby Boomer grad classmate

bemoans, while the Professor raises his

eyebrows at us. “Well?”

Outnumbered, we respond

internally.

 

I can only speak for myself

but I will go to bed hungry again tonight. 

Thirst for knowledge is louder than 

the grumbling.

 
A classmate: My family immigrated here. Our 

home is thousands of miles away. Our friends

will never see the inside of this classroom

this avenue they call Freedom. So I’m here. 

 
Portrait of a Millennial who forgot her

purse, who is now stuck in an elevator.

We won’t call it a broken elevator

because it may well rise again,

and we should give it that chance.

 

The purse not in the elevator

holds insulin syringes,

juice in case of

hypoglycemia,

water, notecards,

and responsibilities.

 

Being stuck in an elevator with

type 1 diabetes and no purse

is what anxiety spends your entire life

training you for:

finding a way out when all is lost

in a corn field maze of ridiculousness.

 

PUSH TO CALL

IN CASE OF EMERGENCY!

You push, it calls.

Ringing. No one is home

on the other side. Please

leave a message.

 

You drop to the floor and pray

You pound at the doors but they

are walled shut. Without insulin

life bleeds you dry within hours.

Open the doors! Dooo anything. 

 

This won’t be the first time,

nor the last, when your back is

against the wall.


We’re at Floor Three-and-a-half

There’s still time

We’re just getting started

We’re almost there

 

 

 

No Rules Poetry

Medusa

 

I don’t really like this picture

the Medusa hair

the empty, searching eyes

behind the mask of a smile.

 

“Emotional support” animals exist

because “emotional support” humans

sometimes falter

with their words.

That unspoken empathy

sometimes best fulfilled

by a creature

weighing less

than two pounds.

 
“Can you bring me my baby?”

I’d asked my mother

“Birthday cake

wasn’t sugar free

after all”

I’d sighed.

 

Unfairly pushing the blame

of an insidious condition

onto another

in the exact ignorant manner

I have grown to detest

in the abundantly phony

“Tame Your Diabetes!” articles.

 
My vision blurry

I already knew the number

was 400+ and climbing

without having to look

at the faded screen

of an overused machine

supposedly meant to sustain life

while the cure lingers

just out of reach.

 
“Can you bring me my baby?”

 

 

No Rules Poetry