day 60 : stroke codes
does it get easier?
when you’re around
all this death
and this dying,
trying to keep
these plates spinning
the beeping of
until they drop,
which i guess is
a good thing,
we become familiar
with descent like
soap box derbies,
we lose control less,
ride straight paths,
until finish lines,
wheels still on.
day 54 : 100 hours
it’s not sustainable,
but neither is life,
and i can assure you,
i won’t be the one
who taps out first.
day 52 : jamais vu
i know that i’ve been here before,
i’ve seen these walls,
my name is on assignment list,
but this is all so unfamiliar.
here, it’s deemed a victory
when only one of the three patients
that were supposed to die, perish,
stroke codes echoing overhead.
i’ve walked these halls,
faces i’ve seen before,
places i had to have been,
they don’t make sense.
i had to pause for a second,
when he said “thank you doctor”,
is that what i am now? is that how i seem?
have i ever lacked so many answers?
day 40 : st. alban’s
i focus on making these words complicated,
so you’ll realize you underestimated,
i’m greater than you thought i’d ever be,
catching stars that’re heavenly,
there’s nowhere that i’d rather be,
got no recipe, for this reverie,
i’m in revelry, stocked with remedies
for your maladies, i got allen keys
for this furniture, in this future
i act more mature, got sparks
from this armature, got hearts
in the curvature, of my palm,
got a way for us to get along,
got the christmas lights that you rely upon
strung from ceilings, got these feelings,
like the way the red yellow green and blue
reflected off of you, and these church pews,
the warmth between us two, wasnt due
to the lack of air conditioning,
the sweat that was glistening,
the way that we were listening
to the songs of evening hymns,
it was within, thermal energy
emanating from you and me,
there’s no replicating this chemistry,
elementally, i like the way our
atoms align, cells intertwine,
molecules reflecting light that seems divine.
and i don’t often find myself intermingling
science and religion, but i also
don’t often find myself in this position,
and it’s riveting.
day 25 : the oaks
there are things that i would like to do,
there are things i think this mic can do,
but we set the bar so high, that we barely ever try,
so instead, i’ll pretend i write for you,
and the end keeps coming into view,
and i keep stalling in these interviews,
with these interludes, i’d like to introduce,
a way to pick and choose,
from the paths that they’ve set out for you,
i’ve seen the best of you that you can be,
the one you hide away so secretly,
but your secrecy isn’t what i keep with me,
these sequins reflect your light so brilliantly,
and frequently, i come back to that,
we harden under attack,
ditch art and never come back,
these hearts won’t even react,
asystole, it’s a mystery
why we can’t even accept that fact.
i’ve seen how far down this can go,
broken furniture through stained windows,
soup kitchen lines winding through and behind
those whose minds can no longer define
what it means to be alive,
the difference between insanity and clarity,
psychosis and the notion that it can get better,
i’ve spun these records and written these letters
in an attempt to forget her,
but what about when you forget you, yourself?
we accumulate this wealth, tchotchkes on a shelf,
got keys that we can sell, but what about our health?
and the fact that we all lose it eventually?
would we still seek what we seek?
be set on secrecy? stall on writing soliloquies?
or raps, would we be focused on the math like you + me,
or the vague concept of love eternally,
or live religiously?
would we still be set on the things that we could do,
or just do, it? got music, got stuff and i’ll lose it,
there’s so much we could do without, like doubt,
and regret, and the other things we let
take our focus off the present and our presence
like possessions, but those are irrelevant
it’s all transient, transcend.
day 18 : mobile crisis team
a mother vindictively yells at her daughter:
"they’re going to put you in a straight jacket!"
and i wonder if we’re taking
the wrong person in to hospital.
day 10: code white
i’m all for pushing comfort zones,
but he thinks his hand is a cellphone,
and i’m terrified there’s something that i missed
in our prior conversations,
he was better then.
we spoke of what led to him being here,
and he wasn’t drinking imaginary water
from an empty cup,
he knew who i was,
he knew where we were,
his eyes were in contact with mine
instead of scanning across the ceiling,
he could understand that these voices
and images were an extension of illness,
an illness that i either underestimated
he’s now standing on his bed,
the nurse is asking for an order.
day 8: consent and capacity
the first time we met
was on a friday,
and i hoped you’d be there
after the weekend.
though your eyes were downcast,
i tried my best to connect,
words seemingly bouncing off
a surface which depression has hardened,
incapable of transmitting light.
the words that i wrote on your chart
were selected carefully,
for fear of a future someone dredging
through these words at
morbidity and mortality rounds.
your spirits changed today.
and i know that’s what we wanted,
but the speed at which it happened
and your previous desire
to escape these surroundings,
and escape the surroundings outside,
makes me worried about
whether you’ve changed or
just learned the right words to say.
i hope we’re right in believing you.
day 6: how?
how do you handle the sick
and insane, the crazies
rocking back and forth
oblivious to surroundings?
the lunatics who slash
their wrists, or hide pills
while lying to your face?
the hysterics shrieking
at the top of their lungs
triggered by almost nothing at all?
how can you be comfortable
in a setting where the paranoid
think you are out to get them,
instead of treat them,
spy cameras in pens?
while the delusional,
who think they’re jesus,
question your beliefs, as they
claim to perform miracles,
turning oxycodone to wine?
how can you handle the psychotics
or depressed who jump from bridges,
or tie their necks,
or stab knives past their ribs,
in an attempt to reach their hearts?
it’s not as hard as you may think.
it’s a balance between those symptoms and
when you see them stop.
a smile, a look unfiltered
by mental illness, the warmth,
the way your heart swells when they say
"they’re tears of joy",
an embrace between temporarily
estranged father and son,
a word of thanks.
a life that can move forward,
thanks to you,
despite the labels of lookers-on.
day 3 : 1:1 observation
there’s a part of me that wonders
whether you’ll be here tomorrow,
all the supports in the world
can’t stop one once their mind’s made up,
messages in those forearm scars,
a helplessness expressed in a glance,
tears can run out,
day 2: thermodynamics
i’ve been here before,
and i know you’ve been here too,
and try as we might to not end up like this,
and i can count the ways that i tried to change but,
none of them seem true,
searching for solutions, i come up with nothing,
so we keep spinning in circles
like a child with a spirograph
sitting at the back of class,
ignoring lessons on math,
focused on how lines can interact
and intersect, there were
patterns we’ve learned to forget,
ashes, we’ve learned to protect,
lanterns, we’ve learned to just let,
dim, flames can’t stand the direct
wind, exposure to elements,
the first time we learned of that
concept, we were in contact,
is it so wrong that,
we be the last thing persisting?
resisting for so long, why stop now?
gotten past hurdles and haters,
we’re tracing circles still later,
there’s nothing that’s greater
i’ve seen the way that a mind can bend,
it’s all pretend, the pretence that
we’ll always stand, i’ve seen how
bones can break from simple falls,
we stand so tall and forget how this all
disappears in an instant,
there’s instances that continue to replay,
our sweat while we awaited the f-train,
we get so focused on left brain analysis,
but this is music, this is intuition,
this is emotion, this is the notion
that despite how small and meaningless
we seem, that there’s significance
in all of this coincidence, and it’s not
fate, it’s not some higher being
and blessed order, it’s even more,
it’s disorder, it’s the spin of
you and me, it’s entropy.
Day 1: restraints PRN q24h
i ran into a car today.
and saw a man get physically restrained.
cuffs on his arms, digging into skin,
as he cried out for justice,
and i can’t even begin
to think on how it was silly
to stress about damage to cars,
when something like damage can go so far,
and i’ll remember how quickly
anxiety can fade when replaced
with perspective in front of your face.
i left a note on that car with my phone number,
drowsily written words of apology,
i should have paid more attention,
i’m paying attention now.
there were fireworks last week,
and i swear i still smell them on our skin,
there’s a distance between us,
that i think we could fill in,
there’s a carousel spinning in the airport
i flew into, and i left baggage there,
there’s a hostel in osaka, a rooftop patio,
a can of asahi, remnant strands of hair,
all the preparation that went into this
feels like we studied for the wrong exam,
but these words seem familiar,
contact between our hands,
as we walked down sidestreets in Sydney,
i said i’d be leaving soon.
Though there are ways, from here, for us to meet again,
These homeroom hallways, coat racks and covvies will dissipate into memory, which itself will dissipate also,
There are moments that I’ve replayed, the ones worth keeping are sometimes supplanted by the ones I’d most like to forget,
When we leave this place, what will we hold onto with fondness? and how can we differentiate reality from rose tinted lenses?
Isn’t youth the most cherished attribute? The fumble of inexperience, the wonder of not knowing, the endurance and exuberance,
We know it best when it is gone, like footsteps from a cubicle that we were too scared to take, for fear of not moving on.
The Residency Project
I’ve finished my third year and poems 1-200 serve as the best summary that I could ever offer. As I pursue publication of the work as a collection, I thought it best to keep going. What follows is the residency project.