Keep Out of Reach of Children and Pets

(From Walgreen Pharmacy’s “Your Personal Prescription Information”)

by Joan Wiese Johannes

The pharmacist fills her prescription and tells my golden retriever,
“Very bad and sometimes deadly side effects may happen.”
Sophie knows what “bad” means so she looks down at the floor.
“You should avoid driving and doing other tasks that require alertness
until you know how the drug affects you,” he says.
Sophie rests her head on her paws.

“Ciprofloxacin may raise the chance of tendons tearing,” he warns.
“That means you can’t play frisbee or chase rabbits,” I add.
“You may have trouble sleeping, nightmares
and hallucinations, see or hear things that aren’t there.”
Sophie tilts her head and lifts one brow. I clarify,
“Like when you bristle and growl at the patio door.”

He asks Sophie if she thinks she may be pregnant or plans
to get pregnant anytime soon. I shake my head: not an issue.
“It is common to have diarrhea when taking this drug, wheezing,
weakness, difficulty talking, vaginal itching, rashes, hives,
and you should avoid the sun because you will burn more easily.

“There is also a very bad (Sophie closes her eyes) skin reaction,
Stevens-Johnson Syndrome toxic epidermal necrolysis
that causes very bad (buries her nose in her paws)
health problems that may not go away and may cause death.”

I think Sophie has fallen asleep, but the pharmacist instructs,
“Be sure to let me know if your heartbeat doesn’t feel right,
you experience thinking that isn’t normal, lack interest in life,
or have thoughts of killing yourself.”

* * *

Joan Wiese Johannes’s third chapbook, Sensible Shoes, won the Alabama State Poetry Society’s John and Miriam Morris Memorial Chapbook competition, and her fourth chapbook, He Thought the Periodic Table Was a Portrait of God, was published by Finishing Line Press. She co-edited the 2012 Wisconsin Poets’ Calendar and the 2019 Winter issue of the literary journal Bramble with her husband Jeffrey. She lives in Port Edwards, WI and loves retirement after teaching high school English for 34 years.

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