E. F. Schraeder
The thin stack of papers in my hands, fingers clutched,
calculates my failures in the current economy;
proves where I live, the bills I pay, what I earn.
Beneath the fluorescent lights my pallor, build, and poverty
render me a fine candidate for inquisition, suspicion:
Intake asks again “which" illegal substances I use.
The question below the accusatory tone: "You’re
so smart, what are you doing in a public hospital?"
Or really, "How’d you end up here with the junkies?"
The contempt never fades, and no one
bothers to ask me or the oxycontin freaks
what went wrong, could not be
undone. To the policy makers and administrators,
we are equivalent losers. As irrelevant as animals
on the edge of extinction.