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Monday, March 18, 2013


from a series by Joan Mazza

Paul Ryan Caricature
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) rolled out his latest budget proposal, offering an ambitious blueprint that promises to balance the budget in a decade by repealing President Barack Obama's health care reforms and slashing Medicare, Medicaid and programs to help the poor. --Huffington Post, March 12, 2013

Home health nurse arrives, she says, to ask
a million questions. I acquiesce although
I’ve answered them too many times.
She puts her laptop at the foot of my bed,
gets a chair from my office, and checks
off boxes on her touch screen.

That’s not one of the choices.
Then fill in NONE or NON-BELIEVER.

She chuckles. I’m a reverend.
Maybe we’ll talk.

I guess she’s early fifties. She complains
about hot flashes, wiggles and giggles when
I tell her I’ve used a men’s urinal, but now
can make it to the bathroom and back several
times a day and night with my walker.

Any accidents?
Chest pain?
Abdominal pain?

She looks up from her screen.
In bed, I have to sit up from flat on my back.
That must add up to a hundred sit-ups a day.

Her first husband drowned when she was
twenty-one, two weeks before she gave birth
to their second son. Remarriage, three more kids.
She takes my vitals, looks at my clean incision,
arranges for OT and PT, asks me to sign
the contract, which states I will be charged
nothing if my insurance doesn’t pay. I sign.
She’ll be back in a week, thanks to Medicare.

Joan Mazza has worked as a medical microbiologist, psychotherapist, sex therapist, writing coach, and seminar leader. She is the author of six books, including Dreaming Your Real Self (Perigee/Penguin/Putnam), and her work has appeared in Cider Press Review, Rattle, Off the Coast, Kestrel, Permafrost, Slipstream, Timber Creek Review, The MacGuffin, Writer’s Digest, The Fourth River, the minnesota review, Personal Journaling, New Verse News, Playgirl and many other publications. She now writes poetry and does fabric and paper art in rural central Virginia.