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Tuesday, July 16, 2013


by Alan Catlin

"Information. We need Information."
"You won't get it!"
"By hook or by crook, we will."
          --The Prisoner TV Series Refrain

                   Emergency Room, Sanford, Florida 2004

Just beyond the sliding automatic door,
the sign above the window says,
Information, but there is no one manning
the station, no computer, no switchboard
for referrals.  Prospective patients, those
still standing, not in shock, not profusely
bleeding, not in cardiac arrest look for
guidance, an information system, a clue.
See interview rooms, people behind closed
doors, double thick panes of glass taking
notes, recording basic facts, names, dates,
places, types of insurance carriers, personal
physician referrals----see the waiting room
filled with people watching the world network
news according to Fox, some dozing or holding
ice packs to afflicted areas, others in wheelchairs,
new arrivals and the old, blood soaked compresses,
hastily splinted limbs, a sign that says something
about Triage services, register here.  Attempting
to Check in at No Information window does
no good, that window is a red herring, a false
clue like Miss Marple in the Conservancy
with an Uzi or President Bush on a Fact Finding
Mission to-----, attempting to engage security
guards writing on a time ledger sheet at window
desk compounds your mistake, angers the scribe
recording the valuable minutes of his day,
each one accounted for especially the present,
guaranteed by contract, smoke break, nothing
must interfere, especially the helpless and confused
patients to be, formulating questions that must
never be asked of the wrong personnel, hastily
slamming shut sliding No Information window,
no one else around not waiting to ask, not even
a number to take as the door slides open again,
admitting more people to inquire at No Information
desk, unmanned once again as security guard leaves
the area, never once looking back or referring
puzzled onlookers to Triage waiting area sign
unreadable from where they stand with a crowd
of others, some crying out for some sort of help
that is answered by an irate nurse like person calling
out, "Everyone must wait their turn.  It's very
crowded here, so be patient.  Anyone getting out
of line will be subject to arrest as the sign clearly
states!" referring to a Everyone Must Read sign
that cannot be seen from the entrance, cannot be read
by the illiterate, the Hispanics, the blinded by
wood alcohol resins, hallucinating drug overdosed
howlers, the desperate and the dying waiting to be seen.  

Alan Catlin has published numerous chapbooks and full-length books of poetry and prose, the latest of which, from Pygmy Forest Press, is Alien Nation.