As a doctor accustomed to judging correctly of chronic complaints, the radical cause of which was incomprehensible and incurable, he looked upon factories as something baffling, the cause of which also was obscure and not removable, and all the improvements in the life of the factory hands he looked upon not as superfluous, but as comparable with the treatment of incurable illnesses. —Chekhov, “A Doctor’s Visit”


Chinese worker-poets
Struggle to navigate
The hopelessness
Of factory existence,
While here in America
As clinician-healers
You & I
Struggle to navigate
The hopelessness
Of another sort
Of factory existence:
The community clinic,
The hospital wards.

Where do true migrant workers
Find a home?
Along dark city streets,
Behind faceless facades
Of brick factories?
Or perhaps
In small sterile exam rooms
Immersed in never-ending streams
Of human suffering?

Hands working,
Minds wandering,
Scribbling verses,
Jotting notes—
Laboring eyes forever locked
In the center
Of the storm.

What tragic farce is this?
Our lives have run aground here.


2014©Brian T. Maurer