Paul Many

Back before insurance ruled,
before the polypropylene patch,
before laparoscopy and Galen,
they’d lay you open eight inches
to mend a hernia, and put you ten days
on a ward to heal.
I was thrown in with a bunch of jokesters
smoking dope in the toilet, horrifying
girlfriends with flashes of
their bruise-blackened testicles,
one guy harassing the nurses so badly
they threw him an enema party,
with pointy hats and Polaroids,
attended by everyone they could wheel in.
Made me laugh so hard I begged them
to stop for the pain of the pull on my stitches.
Some sad guy even limped back
a few days after he was discharged,
just to hang out and soak up
more of that sweet, agonizing alchemy.