Your friends won’t try to talk you out of the barrel, or your brag to go first, which has nothing to do with bravery. And you’re so hungry to earn their love you forget to claim first your, perhaps, last look at this mountain— crab apples hanging sour in the sun, abandoned Buick, a favorite place to play, dismantled and weathered and delicate as a voting booth. Instead you dive straight away and head-first into darkness, the steel drum that dusts you, like a chicken part, with rust. Looking out, there’s nothing to see of your friends but their calves, which are scabby, and below them the filthy sneakers, shifting, shifting, every foot aching to kick you off this cliff. Their faces, you know, are blank with anticipation, the look you see when they watch tv eating popcorn. They’re already talking about you as if you’re gone, as if you boarded a bus and roared out of earshot, when one foot flashes forward and launches you.
You know as you feel that first solid slam you are lost. The barrel changes shape with each crash to earth, as you will later, assuming and losing lives, but this is so true now: ankles flayed to the bone, cracked ribs and crushed mint, the brittle, pissy sumac. Right now the pin oaks are popping in their sockets, the hillside wears your shoes, clouds pleat and buck. You know, of course, that no one’s going second, and friends who tell this story will use the word idiot, rolling their hands in the air, but you know you know what your life is for now and rise up, and just about scalp yourself on that tree limb above you, another thing you couldn’t possibly know was coming, another which, like your first breath, was not your idea.
Catherine Doty was born and raised in South Paterson, NJ and has taught thereabouts for many years. Cat worked as a cook, bartender and cartoonist as she attended Upsala College and later the University of Iowa where she received an MFA in poetry. Her poems have been widely published. She is the recipient of an Academy of American Poets Prize, Fellowships from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts, and is the recipient of the 2003 Marjorie J. Wilson Award.
An artist, her published work also includes Just Kidding, Cartoons For Grownups - a humorous look at childhood through the eyes of a poet. Recommended for anyone who is a child, or has been one at some earlier time in their life.
Jugglers &Tides is a collection of the poetry of Priscilla Orr, an award-winning poet whose work has been published in Southern Poetry Review and Nimrod International Journal of Contemporary Poetry and Fiction, among other prestigious publications, has been affiliated as a writing teacher with the William Paterson College in New Jersey since 1984. A recipient of a fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and a resident at the famed Yaddo writer's colony in Saratoga Springs, New York, Orr is a revered and much-admired poet. Representing her body of work, Jugglers &Tides is a comprehensive anthology of Orr's poems dealing eloquently and powerfully with such universal themes as childlessness, making love, pets, coping with loss, illness, friendship, overcoming childhood sexual abuse, lost love, loving for love, death, and erotic feelings. Poetry is Orr's life and her enthusiasm for it is contagious. People who listen to Orr will often say to her afterwards, "I never really liked poetry, but I liked yours. It relates to things in my own life".
Paterson Poetry Prize Finalist 2005 ForeWord Magazine Book of Year Bronze Award 2004
CATHERINE DOTY is the recipient of the 2003 Marjorie J. Wilson Award, an Academy of American Poets Award, and fellowships from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts. She was born and raised near Garrett Mountain in Paterson, New Jersey, and has taught thereabouts for many years.
Catherine Doty is the author of Momentum, a volume of poems from CavanKerry Press in 2004, and Just Kidding, a collection of cartoons published by Avocet Press. Her work has appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies, among them Garrison Keillor's More Good Poems for Hard Times and Billy Collins' 180 More: Extraordinary Poems for Every Day. She is the recipient of the a Marjorie J. Wilson Award, an Academy of American Poets Prize, fellowships from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts and other grants and honors. Ms. Doty has worked as a visiting artist for the Frost Place, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the New York Public Library and other organizations.
It's interesting to watch the politicians and wealthy news anchors/casters talk about health care for the average person. Interesting because they have got it so wrong. Generally, they are clueless about what the average person is up against. One politician (Eric Cantor), interviewed on Squawk Box Wednesday morning and again on Joe Scarborough's Morning Joe today, spoke about why universal health care provided by the government is bad for the people. His example? A mother not being able to decide which pediatrician her children can see due to government restrictions in a government run system. "No one should be involved in your decisions about health care," Cantor states, but there is already someone involved in your decisions: The insurance companies. They choose which doctors you frequent by naming doctors and other health care facilities as "out of network," and not covering you, if you choose an "out-of-network" doctor, or service provider (which may be your preferred doctor, especially if a company changes its health care provider; a practice that is becoming a frequent occurrence.
Where's the Research?
I have (or had) so-called excellent coverage. However, my deductible has doubled per person in my family. (By the way, I pay part of the health care provided by my employer.) The insurance company covers fewer of the doctors that I see, and have been seeing for years. Recently, my new provider decided that it would like me to take generic drugs instead of the name brand I've been taking for years. I've been bombarded with paperwork which states the monetary benefits of using generics. I agree. If the generic works, use it. (I tried the one they suggested & it doesn't work properly for me). Furthermore, my health care provider pays only 65% of covered costs...COVERED COSTS. These changes have all taken place within the last year, or year and a half. Those of us who are truly "average" citizens, who are employed (even the middle to upper management) and have coverage, are facing very serious issues with our current health care system. Unfortunately, these issues are not touched on when politicians and the media discuss health care on various news programs. Pick a station, pick a view. It's very polarized out there in TV Land. When a station addresses both sides of an issue fairly, I suggest you stick with it. Bill Moyers? And (usually) Joe Scarborough, when he's not joking around, or in a tizzy about something the democrats just did/said.
Experience is the Best Teacher
Caps? Haven't checked them,yet. I am afraid to. What lessons should we learn? Insurance companies have caps that could cost an average person his/her entire life savings and, most likely, his/her home should a catastrophic illness strike. So, we pay more & more toward our so-called health care benefits. The insurance companies interfere with our medical care by making it too expensive to see certain doctors, or take certain medications. And if we get cancer, or heart disease, or something that can not be cured with a predetermined method of treatment, we lose everything we saved for our entire life. And there is nothing we can do about it. We'll, as they say in my old neighborhood, "That's the breaks". Start wearing garlic around your neck to ward off catastrophic illness, friends, because our current health care system does not focus on preventative care. They put you into the system after you have an illness and then push you around and give you a stack of paperwork and phone numbers. Good luck.
Recently, I spoke to someone who was a claims clerk for a small health insurance company. Many important medical decisions were determined by her. She had no medical background at all. She was a smart person, but she was not trained in medical procedures. Even worse, according to her, they were told to reject a claim three times before considering it for payment. The absurdities go on.
Big Business vs. You
Health insurance is big business in the US. The industry employs thousands upon thousands of people and is extremely profitable (think CEO). However, if England could implement a universal health care system after suffering through the casualties of World War II, we can do it in the midst of our economic crisis. Some of the health care industry workers would be absorbed into the new system of health care. Others would not. This would cause hardships. However, the Wall Street fiasco and the auto industry problems are also causing hardships. The difference is that Americans would get something positive from universal health care: Health Care. In the long run, the system would run more efficiently. Imagine: no papers to fill out. Everything would be on computer. Imagine: no pre-approval. No complicated, inch-thick stack of forms to read through. Privacy? You would be at no greater risk than you are now of having your information hacked into. Your privacy would be protected. Your employer would not have access to your health information without your consent. He doesn't have your passwords and can't hack into your computer savings or checking accounts. You would be safe. Papers need to be replaced, anyway. It was all well & good, but we are also environmentally challenged right now. So, turning to electronic methods is moving in at precisely the right time.
Forget the notions that if we have universal health care we will wait for hours or months for treatment. Propaganda, my dear friend. If you are reading this blog, then you have access to a computer. Do some research. Check out France, England, Spain, Canada and other countries as well. Are there some problems with these systems? Yes, of course. This is real life. In real life there are always problems. However, those problems pale next to ours. Forget the idea that America has the best. If you can't access the best because the best is out of network, who cares about that? Anyway, didn't the celebrity Farrah Fawcett recently travel to Germany for an innovative treatment? More and more you hear about patients going overseas for treatment/care. I interviewed someone who recently moved to America from England. One question I asked concerned the issue of long waits for medical treatment. Her answer? Not true. This is America's time to show that it cares about its citizens and not just about its money, or machismo. We can be innovative. We must be. After all, isn't that what America is all about?