Managed Care

Do not be alarmed at the pace
our doctor plies his noble skills--
one potion cures, the other kills.

To heal is not a game, a race--
a dance between the grave and flesh
with partners green with rot, or fresh.

Accept the process and embrace--
the literature we gave you;
the surgery that can save you!

Depend on skill, dumb luck, or grace
negotiate another breath--
your enemy is not us, but Death!

The Reaper waits, or nears apace.
Patient in aspect and of mien--
takes possession or leaves unseen.

This is an invented form called a Constanza, which Real Toads has inflicted on me this morning. How do I hate this form? Let me count the ways: I hate that all the lines are four feet in length, making a sing-songy quality almost impossible to avoid. Over time, I have come to enjoy a lot of forms, but this one felt like trying to play tennis while wearing a straightjacket. (Some say I would look good in one!) Let's shed the jacket, and try this again...

Just a little bit longer, if you please.
Sit down. Read a magazine!
(They go back to 1983.)

The doctor is a very busy man.
He will do everything for you that he can.
Fill out this form.
Learn the French horn, try a language or get a college degree

while you wait.
From Mail Order State.

Come in, come on, stand on this scale!
Oh my goodness...
all we get are
skeletons and whales!

Any complaints?
Were you hit by a car?
Put on this gown, then sit down.
The doctor will see you if you'll just shut your mouth,
sit here and wait through his rounds of golf.

Knock knock! Hello!
And how are we?!?
Oh yes. Oh my. Oh dear. I see.
I think we can dispense with dreary tests...
Have this prescription filled.
If it doesn't work, come back, we'll drill.

Pay up, pay now, pay through the nose!
Your co-pay is more, your coverage is less,
and all gone to receivership
of Mr. Death, our C.P.A.

Have a nice day!



Marian said…
yes, point well taken and naturally your free verse packs far more punch. but this line is perfect and I love its rhythm:
"negotiate another breath."
well done.
brudberg said…
Ha, yes even me who are a form - freak have issues with the four beats.. sounds like soldier's marching feet... (and if I ever write poetry on that I find it works)... still think your poem worked .. There is probably a reason why classic poetry is much more 5 beats...
hedgewitch said…
"Have this prescription filled.
If it doesn't work, come back, we'll drill."
I just love that, and because my brain is still not fully functional, I'll even copy and paste it back at you. ;_)
Your form poem manages to avoid the 'too-sing-songy' trap, and the meter and form do underline the creepy, much more so than in the free verse, which really seems closer to a humorous pastiche, whereas, the same concept in the form becomes sinister. I like very much how you've showed off your skills here, Shay, and I think both versions have something unique to offer.
Kerry O'Connor said…
I shall chime in here and say the four beat line is very much an English tradition, the five beat was introduced via the French and Italians.. but back in the day all poetry was made to be sung. I can quite hear your stanzas being belted out in a bizarre scene from a latter day Gilbert and Sullivan stage play.

The contrivance of the form, lent itself to something a little more humorous for me too, but I have read many lyrical poems which worked just as well.
Fireblossom said…
I should have known it must be English!
Kathryn Dyche said…
Even as a straight jacket you made it fit and look incredibly good at the same time. I'm really struggling with this form and just haven't managed to get anything down for it. Loved the free form too . . .

When someone is fantastic at singing they say they can sing the phonebook, not sure what the equivalent is for poetry, maybe they can write a constanza!
Unknown said…
Conformity kills! I kind of liked the form but my damaged mind seeks order and flails in chaos. I liked both versions but the second version is all you.
Mama Zen said…
Girl, you killed that form. Thank you.
humbird said…
Not boring! Hahaha...
Susan said…
Haha! Love both poems--the very rigidity of the first makes it perfect for your chosen subject matter. The second delighted me because it's full of your breath and it acted out the desire to break form that bit me too once the initial 5-line poem was ready to go. But I resisted BTW, I had always blamed France's Racine and Moliere for the tetrameter and the English for the pentameter. I will ask Kerry about that directly, I guess.
Cloudia said…
May I avoid Drs!

ALOHA from Honolulu
Comfort Spiral

=^..^= <3
Susie Clevenger said…
I love both poems...I have been given prescription meds that gave me seizures and had me on the brink of death..Let's say I am extremely wary of doctors.
Kay L. Davies said…
The first made me think of my poor dad in the final stages of Alzheimer's, but the second made me laugh. You are always entertaining, Shay, one way or another.
avalon said…
For you, this STANZA is a CON.
{well, somebody had to say it :-)]
And you have parodied it so brilliantly that we will have trouble taking it seriously from now on :-)

Maybe on day we could have a parody prompt?

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