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August 27, 2014 Poetry

5 Poems

Ross Robbins

5 Poems photo

from “Mental Hospital: A Memoir”

I was a roll of sod: unplanted, emergent situation as I yellowed toward death. Bodily I was a drying thing, my parchedness a warm concussion. Roots found no purchase. My green undone into dust until no magic molecule could pill me back to lush.


The inexorable speed with which the world has moved since I first arrived spirals out of control. I am begging time to slow, to slow, to slow down. Amphetamine psychosis and its consequent hostility. I lash out badger-style at A-Wing’s head nurse. Taken down, dragged off by six burly men. They bring me to a dark lockdown with two shots. No matter how hard a patient is fighting, they will always get still when it is time for a shot.


I wake up in a wheelchair. I wake up on display. There are staff members crowding for a look, a touch, a set of vitals. I am being wheeled from the gym to the ward. Twice I crawl out of the chair to push my face into the dirt. So hot I could burn. If I could just get way, way down underground I might get cool. Finally, someone holds my shoulders until I am in my room. Led to bed, my tongue is made—my head is made of cinders.


After the seizure I am on ward hold again. The nurses assure me that this is not a punishment. Got to keep a close eye, lest I convulse in the wrong place at the wrong time out on campus pass with a Camel in my mouth, face-first into the pond, gurgle, bubble, flatline. So I try to move slow around the ward. Keep close to the wall with a hand on the banister. I try to stay at least half the day out of bed. I try to stay positive, but I don’t.


Latchhook puppy on the wall of the art room. Beside it, a purple cardboard snap-dragon yawns like a vagina. In the gym, dodgeballs hit the floor with a wet rubber slap. Up the hall from that the canteen is serving ice cream sundaes. Everything as it should be. Everything as it must be. I open the paper to the obituaries. I never knew these people, and now I never will. I sigh my way through stringing beads on stretchy elastic to brighten my wrist. Tedium and  decaf. Come close, come close, come see the sun reflected in my newly hopeful eye.


image: Tara Wray