the subject



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



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



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



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,


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



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:


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



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