MDR-TB [Helen Townsend]

She believes me when
I tell her it isn’t personal.
We explain it’s evidence-based
that we have to watch her
take every dose
that she has to sit alone
in a hotel room we pay for
that she can’t leave
without a mask
that we have to test
all of her friends
at the shelter.
Science says TB floats in the air.
We tell her we don’t test
her for HIV because
she looks the part.
We tell her it is science-based.
We base our tests on science.
It is science-based to say
TB and HIV make each other worse
like lies plus zealotry.
She doesn’t like to be called vulnerable.
She worked
as a rodeo clown
until a bull threw her
into a fence.
She had a dentist
and all of her teeth
until the divorce.
She apologized to the fetus
for the bad luck
of no birth vs. birth into
fists and teeth flying.
She apologized once.
She says she doesn’t feel entitled
to forgiveness or praise.
She considers herself down on her luck.
We explain in our line of work
an entitlement is a promise
to the old ones for a roof
to the young ones for a chance.
For the promises that require money
a promise to provide the money.
We tell her it’s not just the poor.
Even lucky ones
can get TB.
Everyone breathes.
She worries about the
transgender woman
who slept on the cot next to her
worries about what she will do
worries if she will ever see her again.
They held hands
at night to go to sleep.
She tells us about
the diversity of sounds
on the street
how the animals and insects
trade places in the mind
how the wind smells
different in the sun
how boots in the alley
sound like snapping traps
how bathrooms with
room to turn around
and signage that says
whatever feel homey
how hallways
never feel kind
and how it’s been so long
since she had her own stove
that she’s afraid to turn it on.
The time she tried to boil
water for ramen
she meditated
on the flames and bubbles
until the bottom of the pan
crusted over
and the fire alarm went off
in a diversity of profanity
and the hotel manager
cursing the health department
and whores like her.
She asks if hate is science-based
or evidence-based.
She swallows her pills
and I leave
with a fist in my throat.


Helen Townsend, TB Nurse Consultant and poem writer, lives and works in Indianapolis. She tweets at @prsgrlks.
Inspiration: The inspiration for this poem came directly from my work. The woman who inhabits this poem, while fictional, embodies so many of the risk factors and the needs of our clients.


Nothing gets me high anymore [Catherine Pond]

Listen, if you like big things, you’ll love these fires. They’re bigger than ever,
bigger than that button on your desk. In California we sit around free-basing

facts, reading science-based reports about the dawn of the Anthropocene era,
but don’t let that worry you. In fact, you should come to California sometime:

you’d love our transgender moon, glowing and spinning like every other
celestial being. And the diversity of our golden sunsets, spread out

like a stock portfolio across the sky — you’d be all over it. I should warn you:
abortion is legal here and we’re not scared off by photos of dead fetuses.

On the upside, your face will fit right in. We’ve got just as much entitlement
as the East Coast, and although sometimes the Hollywood liberal elite

use big words, I can coach you before your arrival. For instance, propaganda
is an old-fashioned term meaning ‘alternative facts’ as in, statements

that are not evidence-based and/or which contradict the evidence, such as
‘I never raped my own wife’ or ‘I’m a great President, the greatest of all time.’

Seriously, I don’t see any reason why we can’t all get along. I’m sure you could
teach me a few things. And in return I’ll teach you some poetry,

including all the best lines by the best poets. Like Shakespeare, who wrote:
Thou doth protest too much. Or ee cummings, who noted:

Nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands.


Catherine Pond’s writing has appeared in Boston Review, Narrative, Rattle, and many more. She is a PhD candidate in Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Southern California.

Inspiration: I wrote this poem in response to Trump’s tweet in which he brags that his nuclear button is bigger than Kim Jong Un’s. But it’s also about my frustration and disgust in general with the current administration.


Reaching Across the Divide [Michele Battiste]

We reject
the evidence—based
on science based on
entitlement—as we are not
the kind of people who spend
their days turning knobs on a
microscope and calling it labor.
Who scribble in notebooks and
want to be applauded. Who bemoan
the insufficiency of their research
assistantships. Their reality isn’t ours
and so their facts are alien and don’t
bother to make introductory overtures.
Is it diversity if we  are not included?
Diversity is a kind   word for a fundamental
difference of life      experience and consequently
a separate set of         accepted givens, some apparently
perceived as              valueless. Only the most vulnerable
are terrified                 of disappearing or worse. Being visible
and not mattering                at all. We save buttons. Our
grandmothers serve                  several cups of tea from one bag.
If we didn’t have God                   we would lash out in hopelessness
and drown the weak. If                       we want to give a fetus rights,
it’s because we understand                         helpless. Tell me what you are
capable of when you                                 are afraid. Our plane is going down
and it is your sky.                                    Your feminist sky. Your transgender
sky. Your evidence-                                     based, science-based, irrefutable sky.
We see your sky                                          glittering with stars even when the sun rises.


Michele Battiste is the author of Uprising and Ink for an Odd Cartography, both from Black Lawrence Press.

Inspiration:  In a conscious move toward healing, I am attempting to be receptive and open to the feelings and perceptions of people on the other side of the political divide. I’m not always successful.

The Magnificent Seven: Seven Decades of New York Times Headlines [Katherine Abrams]

Vulnerable Potentate (1972)
Vulnerable Places (2008)
Vulnerable Buildings (2002)
Vulnerable Citizens (2002)
Vulnerable Software (2003)
The Vulnerable Become More Vulnerable (2005)

What Entitlement Is (1981)
Entitlement Bungling (1994)
The Curse of Entitlement (2007)
Bankers’ Sense of Entitlement (2010)
Entitlement Reform for the Entitled (2012)
Jared Kushner’s Entitlement is New Jersey Born and Bred (2017)

Diversity (1947)
Diversity (1955)
Diversity Training (1999)
Diversity is Not in Your Head (2017)
Tech’s Troubling New Trend: Diversity Is in Your Head (2017)

Milestones in the American Transgender Movement (2015)
Rights Unit Finds Bias Against Transgender Student (2013)
Transgender at the CIA (2015)
Judges Lifts Transgender Restrictions in Military (2017)
How Should High Schools Define Sexes for Transgender Athletes? (2017)
Twitter Has a Transgender Problem (2017)

What’s the Value of a Fetus? (2003)
To Protect a Fetus from Violence (2001)
Rights of the Fetus (1972)
The Woman Behind the Fetus (1989)
Risking Safety of Fetus (2000)

Evidence-Based Medicine (2001)
What We Mean When We Say Evidence-Based Medicine (2017)
Alcoholics Anonymous and the Challenge of Evidence-Based Medicine (2015)
Liability and Standards in Evidence-Based Medicine (2010)

Jerusalem Planning to Develop Park for Science-Based Industry (1968)
In Science-Based Medicine, Where Does Luck Fit In? (2006)


Katherine Abrams is a poet, educator, mother, and feminist who desperately wishes to open the eyes of those who just don’t see what’s happening.

Inspiration: This poem is inspired by the unnerving events since the swearing in of the Trump administration, and the way the news media has been belittled and devalued by that administration. The use of New York Times headlines reframes important the work journalists do while reflecting on the terms being censored at the CDC as public terms, used in public forums, to describe public events and increase public understanding.



(en) Title (ment) [Sima Rabinowitz]

Rabinowitz 02-13-18 image.png


Sima Rabinowitz’s poem “Nuestra Música” appeared in the March 29, 2017 issue of Writers Resist.

Inspiration: As a science writer whose work engages me in writing about basic, translational, clinical, and population health research, I read or write the phrase “evidence-based” almost every day. The irony in this governmental censorship of, and assault on, language is that “evidence” is, in many ways, a completely subjective concept.

A fetus in every garage [Carolee Bennett]

Instead of the automobile, America’s in love now with the fetus.
A new evidence-based government program supporting fetus
cultivation includes provisions for industrialized farming of the fetus.
To secure enough of a crop, farmers who decide to plant fetus
seeds in straight rows over at least nine acres will qualify for fetus
management grants. The casual grower, who tends to potted fetus
plants on a patio or fire escape, does not qualify for these fetus
entitlement funds. However, those with certain types of backyard fetus
gardens may petition the government for stipends under the Fetus
Homestead Act. Please note the application requires explicit fetus
biodiversity criteria to be met for the purpose of ensuring the fetus
will not be vulnerable to disease. Otherwise, all facilities for fetus
generation must comply fully with uniformity guidelines for the fetus.
These are in place (and will be enforced) to produce the exact fetus
consumers have come to expect with regard to taste, texture, fetus
hue, sex, and political affiliation. Documents verifying that every fetus
conforms to these stipulations must be made available to official fetus
inspectors upon request. If these agents discover onsite any fetus
that is transgender, for example, or a batch in which the fetus
falls outside the regulated palette, they are authorized to halt fetus
production immediately. Be aware, also, that playing music for the fetus
is not a science-based practice. Penalties may apply to this fetus
and any that enter the system without proper vetting. Registered Fetus
Watchers or others with information about violations to the fetus
code should alert authorities by calling our Tip Line. Each mature fetus
must be labeled with a sell-by date and packaged in a proper fetus
container. (We manufacture cartons for this specific purpose.) Fetus
program forms are available online and must be submitted by the fetus
deadline each quarter to receive credit for harvesting your fetus.
Incomplete paperwork will result in no payment for the fetus.


Carolee Bennett is an artist and poet living in Upstate New York, where—after a local, annual poetry competition—she has fun saying she has been the “almost” poet laureate of Smitty’s Tavern. She has an MFA in creative writing (poetry), works full-time as a writer in social media marketing and blogs at Good Universe Next Door.

Inspiration: In thinking about Sarah Freligh’s mention of the sestina on Facebook, I started to play with the banned words. As “fetus” landed at the end of the line, I decided to see what would happen if “fetus” sat at the end of each line. It got scary fast, as did everything since the 2016 election. This whole project seems inevitable in that terrifying light.