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heart and mind
always at odds –
sleet on a campfire

puzzle face

Tanka from the Psych Ward

1

disobedient
the out-of-place cart-wheel
throwing its echo
against empty walls
green as my gown

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2

incoming –
tagged with a barcode
snug on my wrist –
all vitals revealed
except the state of my heart

3

bright little footprints
splattered
from wrist to crook –
reds greet the pinks greet the whites
on the old IV highway

4

wide-eyed
mother clings to daughter
confusing
my greatest cowardice
for courage

5

“occupational therapy”
so many eyes
in this coloring book
[blot them out]
i am ashamed

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6

shuffling, shuffling
down the green hallway
with no sense of time –
not one clock here –
we might swallow the batteries

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7

again
i scatter thumbtacks
in the psychiatrist’s ear –
by the fifth telling
they feel slightly duller

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9

mid-afternoon –
the slowest patient
earns a round of applause –
“we’ve watched law & order
too much, i think”

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10

with a wail
the girl with black hair
finally cracks
[fuck this place! goddammit!]
she swears she’s dying

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11

forget red –
if hell has a color
it’s hospital green

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12

mass exodus:
the dining room vomits us
into the hallway –
must be six o’clock
[i should brush my hair]

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14

borne on pink trays –
shampoo! toothpaste! soap!
pajamas from home!
[hot damn!]
feeling human again

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16

green and yellow
orange and purple
a garden of bruises
blossoms on my arms
[fascinating]

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19

cold rain
strips the last leaf
from the lone maple

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22

the nurses are buzzing –
a double rainbow
seen during lunch!
they say it’s lucky –
too bad i missed it

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23

so bored
my brain’s turning purple –
i lean on the sill
and watch the elevators
in the next wing

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26

lending an ear
to a homesick romanian –
his eyes become bright
when i give him some paper
[he draws orange mandalas]

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27

dusk
through the barred window –
is it rain or snow
that evaporates
over the chimneys?

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30

[blank]
i’m reaching –
nobody’s here –
i need to write
[but what]

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33

my yellow wristband
[fall risk]
if they only knew …

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34

in the hallway
without shadows
i called you –
the voice i’ve clung to
left me in eggshells

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37

i have become
putty –
stretched to its limit –
absorbing the text
of too many hurts

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38

before
the night was wide open –
today
i finally see
even stars have their cages

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39

who is this woman
with the sunken eyes?
the real me
lies under the hemlocks
on summer evenings

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40

hidden
deep in my pocket:
one ink pen –
i smile inwardly
because it is contraband

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41

from the fourth floor
the evening sky
is a royal blue gown
of seamless satin
that i never wore

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43

solitaire:
the new guy
snaps his cards
punctuating every move
he wishes he’d made

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44

today’s towels
smell like a boutique
at ocean city –
the dark-eyed clerk
made me blush with his smile

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46

saturday night
a helicopter
breaks the night in two pieces –
dark and darker –
[i fear you’ve moved on]

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49

for days
i’ve dreamed of my home –
now the front door
has vicious teeth
and the windows are growling