Swimming Laps


crawl up 1 crawl down

2  up  3  down  4  up  5  how

many minutes   how fast the heart

rate   down 6   the second hand do-si-do-ing with the minute

hand of the big wall clock the beat of the rock-a-billy on

the boom box   up   7    breaststroke   down 8

up 9   down   10  flip turn   up 11

backstroke down   12     butterfly up   13 down

14 sidestroke   15  16   how long?  long enough

next crop of legs dangling swinging impatient on

the ledge, lanes a blur  up down up down bathing caps goggles

you know/don’t know men women counting strokes   times

laps minutes days (how many this week) (not enough) hot pink/

slate black FitBits blinking/sleeping pulses (up, down) calories in out…

You know nothing about the people in these bodies.  Only

their swimsuits, sliding jumping climbing getting in/out. You say hi

to the red bikini. To the floral board shorts. You/they hustle to the showers,

to the lockers, to the hairdryers.  Presto! Ms Bikini perfect in Givency suiting.

Spiked Prada’s. Mr. Board Shorts casual Armani all the way. The stay-at homes,

the techies,  the mommy/daddies, the laid-offs, the bigwigs, the retirees – headed out

in their yogapants grungy sneakers /crocs,  toting their Lululemon/Nike/no-

name duffel bags off to the parking lot.  Remotes awakening their shiny Masaratis

their slightly dented Kias,  their ‘50’s Corvette convertibles, lovingly restored.

Their Honda minivans moving forward backing carefully anonymously into the world.

Up. Down. Up. Down. Again.  Tomorrow. Tomorrow.  Again.



Suffering, Medicalized (in the ER on a Friday night)


On a scale of 1 -10, where 1 is no pain and 10 is the worst you can imagine, how bad is your pain?


How would you describe it? Check two:

Burning            ☐

aching               ☐

stabbing           ☐

shooting           ☐

lacerating         ☐

piercing            ☐

pounding          ☐

radiating           ☐

throbbing          ☐

stinging             ☐

crushing            ☐

Two isn’t enough choices

Sorry, that’s all the computer gives you.


How is your mood? Remember, just check two:

happy              ☐

unhappy         ☐

angry               ☐

miserable       ☐

anxious           ☐

terrified          ☐

hopeless         ☐

hopeful           ☐

depressed       ☐

suicidal           ☐

Thank you. Take a seat in the waiting room, and fill out these other forms. The doctor will see you in order of the time of your arrival. Or maybe the nurse. Or maybe the intern. Someone, at any rate.

May I have your insurance card while you are working on the forms?

Oh – your card has expired. Come back when it has been corrected. The 800 number is on your old card. They open at 8 AM on Monday.

Goodbye, have a nice weekend.


Marian Kaplun Shapiro


Marian Kaplun Shapiro is the author of a professional book, Second Childhood (Norton, 1988), a poetry book, Players In The Dream, Dreamers In The Play (Plain View Press, 2007) and two chapbooks: Your Third Wish, (Finishing Line, 2007); and The End Of The World, Announced On Wednesday (Pudding House, 2007). A Quaker and a psychologist, her poetry often embeds the topics of peace and violence by addressing one within the context of the other. A resident of Lexington, she is a five-time Senior Poet Laureate of Massachusetts. She was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2012.

Listed at Duotrope
Listed with Poets & Writers
CLMP Member
List with Art Deadline
Follow us on MagCloud