Poetry: It’s a Living

It’s a Living
–Richard Vargas
From McLife: Selected Poems 1978-2004

it’s called customer service
trying to help my fellow man
make sense of the medical insurance
some slick carpetbagging agent
talked him into buying

there are no easy answers
like today
the guy on the phone
was speaking with restraint
holding on to his dignity
but i know begging when i hear it
his voice cracked as he told me
the doctor tending to his dying wife
was getting phone calls from one
of our case managers
being pressured to get her
released from the hospital

please he said
please ask them to stop
she’s in so much pain
my wife my best friend
she’s in a lot of pain and
there’s nothing they can do
please stop the phone calls

i tell him he’s got us mixed up
with someone else
there is no record
of any phone calls
in his wife’s file
but i know better

i want to put him on hold
go find the sterile room with
white walls where faceless people
hold jelly donuts gripped
tight in their pudgy hands
as they put dollar signs
on the way we die

i want to stick my head inside
remind them that
sooner or later we all
finish the race
sometimes it ain’t’t too pretty
but in the end
if we’re lucky
we’ll have the love
of a precious few
maybe the ability to stare
death in the eye
so let this one go
just leave her be

but instead i assure
the guy i’ll do my best
to find out what’s going on
wait for him to hang up
decide to take my break
10 minutes early

times like this i wish
i’d taken up smoking

Cyn is Rick's wife, Katie's Mom, and Esther & Oliver's Mémé. She's also a professional geek, avid reader, fledgling coder, enthusiastic gamer (TTRPGs), occasional singer, and devoted stitcher.
Posts created 4262

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