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An Inside View of the Patient

February 4, 2010

by Delbert R. Gardner

The medical profession is,
We all agree, quite laudable;
But certain of their practices
Are somewhat less applaudable:
For instance, when the doctor says,
“Let’s take a look inside;
A simple test will help us find
What treatment to provide.”
So like good patients we submit
To experts’ ministrations;
But “simple tests,” we find, have need
Of complex preparations:
Instead of just one enema,
They give us triple unction–
Plus a fourth one on the table
To help the X-ray function.
And then the “look inside” becomes
A prolonged stare instead:
We’re photographed in every pose
But standing on our head.
The scientific appetite
For data’s near unslakable,
But after twenty pictures
Any more would be untakable.
When diagnostic tools at last
Bring treatment of the matter,
To say we’re “radiating health”
Is hardly idle chatter.

Download the podcast (reading by Theo R. Gardner)

A veteran of World War II, Delbert R. Gardner (1923-2008) taught college English for twenty-one years before returning to government service as a writer/editor for U.S. Army training materials for fourteen years. Over forty of Dr. Gardner’s poems and stories have appeared in publications such as The Literary Review, Poetry Digest, American Poetry Magazine, Provincetown Review, Mythic Delirium, Goblin Fruit, The 2009 Rhysling Anthology, and Christian Science Monitor. His nonfiction credits include the book An “Idle Singer” and His Audience: A Study of William Morris’s Poetic Reputation in England, 1858-1900. More information is available at www.gardnercastle.com.

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