What is and is not poetry, what is and what is not insurance


When I view the longs and the shorts

The government law about torts

     Could give me assurance

     Not exactly insurance

But it kept me out of the courts.

Synopsis:  I’m a family practitioner from Sioux City, Iowa.  On sabbatical to avoid burnout, while my non-compete clause ticks away I’m having adventures, visiting family and friends, and working in out-of-the-way places.  Just back from a six-week assignment in Barrow, Alaska, the northernmost point in the United States, right now I’m in Leigh, New Zealand, hoping I’ll start work up next week.  I have had very limited net access for the last three days.

Another day has come and gone and the Medical Council of New Zealand has not emailed the letter inviting me to Auckland.  I have to appear before them or their representative with my passport and my original medical degree.

I’ve been carrying that precious piece of paper for the last two weeks.  All in all, I would really rather have left it at home in its frame, or locked away in a safety deposit box.  Yet that synecdoche representing twenty thousand hours of work and study has ridden in suitcase and backpack since we left Sioux City.  I’m looking forward to finding a secure way of getting it home.

We drove into Warkworth, thirty minutes distance, to the closest internet café.  While going through email, I had a moment of panic when answering a query about professional liability insurance.  During my five years with the Indian Health Service I didn’t have malpractice insurance; I had the protective shield of the Federal Tort Claims Act.  (Under the doctrine of sovereign immunity, “the king can do no wrong,” a government can only be sued by the people if it gives consent.  Thus doctors employed by the feds, and therefore agents of the government, carry a certain immunity from medical malpractice suits.  As it turns out, its coverage isn’t very good, which, strangely, prevents a lot of court actions.)  The email requested a letter from the Federal Tort Claims Act.  Of course no such entity exists, nor do I know whom to ask about documentation proving I hadn’t been sued during my years of government employ.  On the other hand, the sort of doc who goes into the Indian Health Service has a sense of adventure, and I’m certain I can benefit from the experience of others.

After Bethany and I finished our email we walked around the business district, and I went looking for a saxophone to rent.  Businesses close, businesses move, and in our peregrinations we stumbled into a thrift store run by Hospice.  I bought four figs and a book.

The paperback’s cover had been faded by exposure to sunlight, but I made out “Fifteen Contemporary New Zealand…” on the cover.  With a publication date of 1980 and a price of $2 NZ, I figured I couldn’t go wrong.

The missing word from the cover turned out to be “Poets.”

I have little patience for the contemporary poetry that lacks structure, cohesiveness, and comprehensibility.  It’s like trying to contact a law.  I find more evocative imagery in conversations with florid schizophrenics. 

 I write poetry, but the limericks that start my posts, while they may have rhyme and meter, lack imagery and thus do not qualify as poems.

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