Thursday, May 30, 2013

Ward Stories - Summer 2013

Ward Stories
A column organized by Dan Frey, Interim Poetry Editor
It is my pleasure to present the poems of Sarah and Gil. Sarah has been very eager to get published by City Voices and sent us many an encouraging email. She has written many fine poems but alas we only have room for one. Gil's poem highlights his experiences in a psych hospital where they sent him for treatment of his drug addiction.


By Sarah
I’ve lived my life on an island
A round one, green and plush
Where my white feet shift all the white sand
And the salt makes my pale face flush

I sing with the island fairies
And make walls of tiny stones
And pretend that the clouds make me merry
And pretend that I'm not alone

Every now and then someone will float past
On their way to some far-off place
And I wave as the current sweeps by fast
While I memorize each smiling face

But my stone walls have started to totter
And the clouds are falling down
Still I dare not go out in the water
For then surely I will drown

Bughouse Birthday
By Gil
Days before I turned 24,
I told my family doctor
I had a heroin habit
and blinking like a mosquito landed
in his eye, he sent me to Fairfield Hills
State Hospital.

There was no group therapy,
no individual sessions,
no psycho-education,
no 12-step programs.
The attendants communicated
with grunts and hand gestures
behind shatter-proof glass.
When I complained of withdrawal symptoms,
the nurse said junkies
have a low threshold for pain.

A patient who memorized
Edgar Allen Poe
kept me up nights ranting:
Ghastly grin and ancient raven
wandering from the Nightly shore…”
Another, called me paesan’
and said a Mafia hit team
was out gunning for him,
smashing the TV against a wall,
inches above my head.

My roomies boasted
how they played the skull doctors
by faking psychiatric problems
to avoid jail time
fantasizing out loud how much
dope they were going to shoot
the minute they hit the streets.

When I was discharged,
they gave me the phone numbers
to their connections.

Sobered by my hospital stay,
I stuck to wine coolers and reefer

for three months.

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