Patients stare at plaster ceilings that warp and buckle
Like a topographical map of Peru.
The doctors stay hidden in their offices,
Timidly, rarely venturing onto the ward,
Wrapped in compassion-proof white coats.
The nurses complain of fatigue, headaches,
Televisions speak the soaps,
Speak the misery of able-bodied white people,
Granting the patients the luxury of feeling pity.
No one present believes in the game shows,
Their creed of shrieking joy,
Their pentecostalist materialism.
Patients, death white, lie stuck on bedpans,
Shitstink sticks to the close, warm air
As the big hand remains stuck on 12,
The little hand on 11,
While an ancient mute janitor
Slides a papyrus-yellow mop
Across the shiny black linoleum.