the subject

24. 

 

doctors are performing

a living autopsy on my brain;

they need insight,

they want to restore me somehow,

reboot me to original factory settings

 

i have become the subject:

the person contained in

three thick folders

of notes and observations,

prescriptions and medications

 

that’s what i am;

i am an experiment:

testing theories foreign to me

 

all around are the white coats

the doctors, the experts, the specialists;

each prodding me with their own questions

trying to de-code my answers,

they keep trying, writing more notes

 

i don’t want to care anymore what they think,

but i do:

they think what i know or feel isn’t quite real,

i’m not comfortable with their position 

they talk soothingly about psychosis

in the clinical kind and remote terms 

doctors use to avoid emotion:

 

vacant voices from the outside

asking asking asking for answers

i don’t have

early release

26. 

 

After the declaration i made;

that i’m too tired of this place,

that i know somewhere else

is a better place,

that i have developed

a plan to escape the trench warfare, 

 

the doctors had no choice

 

i remember,

how calm i was

or i dreamt i was calm,

how the hope for relief 

was strong and tenacious

and numbed my skin in fear

that i would never feel relief

 

a straight-eyed statement

to a medical professional

with words like final or hurt

or pills or hopeless;

doctors take all that seriously,

if you look at them

don't blink or break your committed stare

or say this — i’m not laughing at the joke anymore

then ask — what are suicidal ideations?

and are they suicidal thoughts 

or plans and preparation

the answers didn't  matter

 

after this: 

i am not granted early release.

painted empty

28. 

 

I come back to my apartment;

it sounds like i’m walking backwards,

i touch the walls and the chair:

it’s all different

it’s all the same,

if this was my home

it isn't now:

there’s a bed and a bath and some clothes

so i’ll live here

 

this apartment is painted empty

you can’t avoid the presence of emptiness:

it seeps into everything

plastic mattress

25. 

 

Some mornings i wake up

molested by medication;

terrorized by apocalyptic tremors

for the duration of 

my short morning scream,

that ends 

as confusion

swims into my crusted view

 

the scene is:

the interior of a white room

with a mattress wrapped in plastic

for ease of cleaning,

in case of vomit or blood or worse,

laying on the bed 

our hero,

me,

in a familiar cameo

the bed surrounded by metal handles

hanging tubes dripping fluid

 

the action happens 

in the room,

with the door that is never fully closed,

with nurses who knock

and open the door

call out my name;

at midnight, 1 a.m., 2 a.m., 3 a.m., 4 a.m.

or shine a light on the bed,

the hourly check

that i’m still breathing

 

these mornings i wake up

sort of alive

 

the nurses know

they’ve done their job

better dreams

27.

 

I have better dreams now

i’m naming them better

 

someone told me once

naming something,

makes wishes come true

i keep my wishes

in a box i’ve never opened

 

better dreams,

that don’t keep me awake

that are stuck boots in muck and twigs

that have no distinction;

no careening corners or wailing terrors

no wings and freedom

 

boredom dreams

 

i call them better dreams:

i can’t think of anything better to call them

 

dreams made of a diet 

concocted by a pharmacist;

the red pill makes you calm, and induces 7 hours of sleep,

the blue pill prevents depression and

helps counter the side effects of

the yellow pill that keeps mania under control;

the green pill is just in case

 

i hope that i’m taking placebos,

i vainly think a solution waits

it will be discovered after i die;

it will render all medications pointless:

hypocritically;

i keep believing this advanced medicine 

isn’t just chemical voodoo

but a true answer,

 

morning pills, evening pills, never ending pill bottles

 

now i sleep with a fishbowl on my head;

my dreams are relentless in their tedium

sleep is barely recognizable;

i miss the horrible, disjointed, fabulous dreams

 

i feel like i’m dead in every dream

 

people tell me i’m better now

coming to a house

29. 

 

I remember the voice of a nurse

with a kind forehead,

named nancy,

the name i called her

because i kept forgetting her real name

 

who spoke for me,

when i couldn’t speak

 

i miss her;

i miss her telling me

 

everything’s going to be ok

 

i’m sure she knew

 

everything was not going to be ok 

 

i open up the package

with the shopper’s drugmart logo;

it rattles, 

with bottles and pills

the sound of unwanted change

a new dance with no steps begins

 

my belief is now distant, on the run,

leaving little pieces of my history to gather up

 

i wanted to believe nancy

because she wanted to believe

when she said

 

everything will be alright

in time

 

i lay down 

the last time i slept in this bed

it was porcupine needles

tonight it holds my eroding skin, 

it sticks to my back

i can’t be less comfortable now

 

closing my eyes;

i think of leaving the pink skies

warm silver clouds,

of coming to a home

that is unknown to me

 

i remember everything

when i close my eyes

and think i’m asleep;

 

the glittering cracks in the ceiling:

 

that refract the light shapes,

that live in clown mirrors,

that distort the time i missed,

that reflect the contours 

of my wished-for face

into a space and time;

that is only mine;

 

this what has become of me

for the foreseeable future