Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Literature

Friday, March 20, 2015

"Pick Up Your Meds"

You might have to fall in love
with the names these pharmaceutical
oligopolies give to medicine--
fantastic nouns with neon
syllables like zan, zac, zole,
perc, pram, lam, and zone. Even
the oligopolies have a
med-moniker: Big Pharma.

It's the synthetic language
of weary magic-acts from last
century plus the detached
lingo of advertising that is
always floating above our heads.

We learn the names quickly when
the stuff's prescribed to us
or when we buy it on the street.
We learn them not at all when
it's not or we don't.

We go between docs and pharmacists
as mere messengers. Our bodies
wait patiently like bovines
for the med-food to be added
to our cuds. Where

science, chemistry, capital,
ailment, and diagnosis meet,
chants from a hybrid incantation
get printed
on bottles that are never clear.


2015 hans ostrom


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