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Hippocratic Time Machine

I visited the doctor today, complaining of ague.

He bled me with leeches and gave me mercury pills,

brandy and cocaine.

As I walked down the cobblestone street,

a man defecated in a side alley

and cleaned himself with a corncob

that he had in his pocket

a house maid emptied the family waste onto the street

as the rats attacked the pile of refuse next to my foot.

A sickly woman coughed raggedly

and a small boy picked at the growing scab on his arm.

Where am I and how did it come to this?

 

I walked up to the friendly receptionist

who took my insurance card

and directed me to a kiosk

where I entered my information

and then sat down to wait

for my ultrasound.

There was vinyl and beige carpet and air conditioning

and other patients talked of surgeries and medicine

impatience and second opinions.

Everywhere was healing and attempts at diagnosis

surgery, pharmaceuticals and syringes

scrubs, crocks and forced smiles.

Where am I and how did it come to this?

 

He said you want miracles? Look around.

 

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