Shawn Faulk has diabetes and is a kidney transplant patient. Her sister, Shelly Criazzo, donated Shawn her kidney in 1990.

It wraps round and round my neck,
strangles me, constricts my breath
– the perpetual RED TAPE.
A kaleidoscope of rules and regulations, fickle and vacillating,
swirl, twirl, whirl within my littered head
“Not pregnant? No dependent children?
That’s too bad. No rewards for chronic disease.”
“A case worker called, you say? Been waiting half a day?
Well, then. Just have a seat for the next hundred hours
while you complete this little bit of paperwork.”

The questions continue, now in small print.
Are you working? How much do you make? Do you own a vehicle?
Any other assets? How much cash do you have on hand? Who
do you live with? How much do you spend on rent? clothing? food?
Interminable queries enshroud me,
Mummify me in their infinity.

Forms 24A, 36B, 81C…1143Z.
On and on…prolific and smothering…I’m suffocating
Welcome to “THE SYSTEM.”

“Finished? Sign here…come back tomorrow…no
appointments…wait your turn…go through
screening…make orientation…wait for case
assignment…update monthly…report changes…call
this number…benefits will be processed PROMPTLY.”
Applications, appearances, appeals.
A victim of morbidity made victim of bureaucratic whim.
Stripped of independence. But not by legs that don’t feel,
eyes that don’t see, kidneys that can’t pee.
Working parts frozen in order to provide for parts more compromised.

Lives blissfully clutter with births and baseball games
as I drum fingers, remain on hold, count pennies,
SCREAM for the liberties of normalcy.

Survival skills perfected,
I jump their hoops and play their games.
I talk their talk and dance their dance
All the while pleading for release from