She stood every morning
on the corner
near the main entrance
to the hospital,
hissing hostile remarks at passers by.
We gave her that name because,
if armed with a ray gun,
she would have zapped us.

We guessed at her story:
someone she’d loved
had died in the hospital,
the psychiatrist who’d failed her
worked there,
she’d been jilted by a doctor.

We worried about passing exams,
coping with our very first patients.
To distance ourselves
from her insanity,
we embraced it as idiom.
When one of us successfully
sidestepped a pitfall,
we would triumphantly proclaim,
“Zap zhat, Zap Lady!”


Mary E. Moore
Hospital Drive
Summer, 2009






Holding off Death for the old man, fluid-filled tubes.
Watching the encounter, the bright-eyed monitor
        ticked off the score –
        one parameter against,
        another one for.

But Life had forsaken the old man hours ago.
Winning the victory, Death evoked no mystery
        not known before –
        merely one function less,
        one insult more.


Mary E. Moore




Never argue with your neurosurgeon.
Distressed at his bill, the worst thing to do
is to lose your head and let him have
another piece of your mind.

Psychiatrists are rightly called “shrinks”.
After they’ve elicited your wet dreams,
you feel pretty small.

Geriatricians should be empathic.
If they hang around long enough,
they end up in the same boat as their patients.

Cardiologists are always uptight,
thinking of arteries clogged.
They only eat the whites of eggs
and never the sides of hogs
(though they do bring home the bacon).

The proctologist’s path is smooth;
his road is never thorny.
But neither do the places he goeses
smell much like roses.

Hail to the urologist – master of plumbing,
assists in our going and our coming!*

Orthopedists most always wear scrubs.
They get covered in plaster
from casting disaster.

The gynecologist – man’s best friend.
After woman is introduced to the speculum,
almost all else resembles romance.

Dermatologists look for scales and moles
finding stuff as small as a pin.
They start with your scalp, end with your soles
but never get under your skin.

Each specialist sticks to his own thing
or hers as the case may be.
So pray that the illness fate may bring
respects this boundary.


Mary E. Moore, M.D.

*Couplet in Thoughts for All Seasons, Vol. 6, 2007, M.P. Richard, Editor





Cells dividing
Arteries clogged
Hormones raging
Bone marrow mobbed

Work-up slipshod
Records lost
Clerical error
Specimen tossed

Internist smug
Diagnosis obscure
Surgeon knife-happy
Prognosis poor

Drugs galore
Minimal effect
Living will
Benign neglect


Mary E. Moore
Merging Shadows
Community of Poets
Collection Vol 7, 2008






Tipping forward to escape
the wheelchair’s confines, the ancient one
pleads with her feet, “Go home.”

It’s her companion who volunteers
the Chief Complaint, “Ever since her stroke,
Mother’s back seems to hurt.

Her doctors say there’s nothing can be done,
but I thought that perhaps a specialist ...”,
she strokes the old woman’s shoulders.

“Does it hurt here, or there, or if I touch this?”
My fingers probe among birdish bones.
Ignoring me, the patient whimpers, “Home”.

When the daughter’s eyes register pain, I say,
“I’ll inject this spot near her sacroiliac joint.
It may provide relief, in any case do no harm.”

I fill in the charge sheet attached to the chart.
Low back pain. Trigger point injection.
Return PRN
. But how should this be billed?

With the old woman’s medical insurance?
With the daughter’s?
Or should I pay for this one?


Mary E. Moore
Pulse - Voices from the Heart of Medicine
July, 2010