4 Poems From a Mental Hospital

I. Constants

In the courtyard

turning inward-

each one of us

small spheres of loneliness.


We’re locked

-in our minds

-in our pain

-in our patient IDs


What do you do

when the treatment

feels worse

than the illness?


Stripped of everything


except that constant-



II. Foggy

Should I ask for the nail clippers?

Small signs of time passing-

longer nails, body hair,

and that monthly reminder of womanhood.


Everything else blurs together-

groups, meals, and the patients

who come and go

before I can come back to myself.


Twice a day, the question

“are you thinking about wanting to be dead?”

Each time I reply,

I’m less sure of my answer.


III. Scrutinized

The nurses walk by every 15 minutes

and flip through their clipboards,

monitoring their charges

with small, inked notes.


Some of us deal with it


cocooning ourselves

inside our skulls.


Others direct it outward,

venting to anyone who will listen

in an attempt

to regain control.


Ever present: the choice to perform-

or be authentic.

Which will get me out

and which will get me better?


IV. Treatment

They say it’s not a punishment, being here-

and it’s not-

but my sputtering brain,

fighting to maintain pathology,



to differ.


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