snapshots of the ward

fig. 1

I thought the hallways would be cold and sterile. Unpadded tile floors. Echoing with footsteps and wheeled meal carts. Tile would make it easier to clean. Instead, the halls were warm and quiet. Dark carpet (to hide stains?) and the soft shuffle shuffle shuffle of patients doing their laps of the ward in their non-skid hospital slipper socks.

fig. 2

The front desk holds the list of unwelcome visitors. I find myself thankful I made my list. The person I least want to see shows up as a visitor. Why? To gloat over my breakdown? To shame me? To apologize? To make up? I’ll never know. But even just the thought of seeing them sent me into a panic attack and a need for meds.

fig. 3

The lunchroom is the hub of patient life. Coffee. Snacks. Puzzles. Every jigsaw puzzle is missing at least one piece. It’s almost a form of torture. Do they do it on purpose to test our ability to handle stress? My puzzle partner has OCD and the end of the puzzle sends her to her room shaking. This can’t be therapeutic. But there it is.

fig. 4

Occupational therapy is called arts-and-crafts or “going to camp” by the patients. We’re going to decorate light switch covers. The man next to me starts to cry quietly. “Are you okay?” I whisper. He wipes his eyes and whispers back, “I’m homeless. Where am I going to put a light switch cover?” I feel a sniffle of my own coming on and give him a quick sideways hug. The therapist says loudly, “No touching the other patients!” Oops. In trouble for being compassionate. Everyone looks at us like we’d been making out in art class.

Imagine

imagine the thing
you love most
imagine it gone
vanished
nothing

imagine someone takes
every meaningful moment
of your life
every warm memory
every loving conversation
takes a hammer
to each delicate bit
smashes them like glass animals
shattered into slivers
that cut and bleed
you attempt to repair
and fail
you attempt again
and fail

imagine your life
as feathers tied together
with a silk cord
someone cuts the cord
the feathers float away
catching them is pointless
but you try anyway
and fail

imagine rage
imagine heartache
imagine dying
of a broken heart

why are you still crying?
you can’t find the words
you are ragged
you are dead
you are without hope
you are alone
where do you start
to stop
the crying?
how do you start
to stop
the tears?
how do you find
a reason
or purpose
for starting?

imagine yesterday
is shattered glass

imagine today
you are walking barefoot
through the shards
imagine tomorrow
there is no sun

(from Grief Song: An experience of loss)

Childhood Fears: The basement

you know what sounds good right now my grandfather
asked from the red recliner by the front window

a nice big bowl of ice cream from the deep freeze
what do you think Squirt want to go down to the freezer

Squirt was me and I was having nothing to do
with going down into the haunted basement

there be monsters a sign should read above the door
or beware of the portal to Hell or doorway to death

the first three steep steps had no handrail
so it seemed like stepping off into the abyss

uncarpeted glossy wood slippery to child sized shoes
no traction no handhold a sudden fall an instant death

I don’t want ice cream but my grandparents
insisted I conquer my fear of the basement

staring down into the chasm I could almost see the monsters
starring back at me from dark empty shelves

my grandfather’s power tools could be nightmares come to life
the deep freeze grumbled threateningly from the darkest corner

I could tell where the witch hid which corners the ghosts crouched
I knew what lived underneath the workbench

going to the basement for ice cream meant a battle
with my deepest fears fear of falling of slipping of dying

fear of dark corners and empty shelves of mythical monsters
and cunning beasts all waiting for my small self to wander in

all waiting for grandpa to want ice cream grandpa I said
can you come with me he just chuckled you’ll be all right

the monsters and creatures and witches may not have been real
but the fears and the deep terror in my heart were

one more night I faced the monsters alone and wished someone
would hold my hand and show me gently the way to safety

You Who I Will Never Hold


I may love your forever
you, who I will never hold
a relationship based on intimacy
of feelings, of thoughts
always yearning
always disappointed
never satisfied
never full
the desire to die
or to be fulfilled
wishing for the hunger to cease
or be satisfied
the flame to be extinguished
before it destroys
how do I live with this desire
this hunger
this flame
we met at the wrong time in this life
too late
but even so
I may love you forever
you, who I will never hold

Poem: be aware


Short excerpt from the new book-length erasure poem, BAD THINGS HAPPEN.


31m2vqk1gvlthe evil
in this world

troubled
human history

call for help

LISTEN

in confidence ask
begin to understand
discern wisdom

LISTEN

open your eyes

BAD THINGS HAPPEN

be aware

BAD THINGS HAPPEN

they have been
deluded
they bought into
deceit

words
deluded them

LISTEN

you were captive
to traditions

you were buried
you were dead
you were hostile

you judged
defrauded
your mind

BAD THINGS HAPPEN

your freedom
distressed people

LISTEN

you learn
significant truths

BAD THINGS HAPPEN


Just messing around with format

Sometimes I play around with different ways to present the same words on the page.  This is a redo just out of curiosity to see how it works in block format rather than more traditional lines.   If you’re interested in seeing the original, you can find it here.  I realized I haven’t really shared much here lately, but I have been working on some things, but not ready to show the newest projects yet.  So I think I’ll just starting showing some of my “process” of writing the assorted things I’m messing around with these days.


inspired

neither god nor muse on a train in a nasty mood coming from the outside from the inside the source is unimportant the poet is the poet is the real thing Yeats is Spicer’s ghost father the poem drives the poet parasite dictating to us (the Martian) Yeats’ wife possessed by spooks “I’m here to give you metaphors”


inspired


neither god nor muse
on a train
in a nasty mood
coming from the outside
from the inside
the source is unimportant
the poet is the poet
is the real thing
Yeats is Spicer’s
ghost father
the poem drives
the poet
parasite dictating
to us (the Martian)
Yeats wife possessed
by spooks
“I’m here to give you
metaphors”


Reading Ecopoetry on Patriot Day While Sitting on the Back Deck


hummingbird soundtrack
distant rumbling
thunder? no
train yards
impersonating summer squalls
alone
sunlight scented skin
quiet rustlings
dry leaves
red umbrellas
Patriot flags
poetry pages
flapping open
shut open shut open shut
in a passing breeze
suspended in time
between stillness and movement
warmth and cool nights
morning and forever
mourning and
open shut open shut open shut
life’s pages flap open shut
hints of fall
uncertain futures
one more lonely pass around the sun
dandelion wishes
daisy loves
and love-me-nots
vanish for another year
deep distant rumbling
thunder? no
shuddering moments of loss
the sun shines still
quiet and still
warms this sun-kissed
tear-stained
pink-skinned mammal
one more day


Poem: language


by Debi


who is mother tongue
who is father country
the collective
the source of identity
language moves from place to place
water, rain, flowing
can take things away from you
the assembly, monolithic
one language, one place, one overall
you have to give up things
in the land of the free?