hospitalville

The faint creaking of cardboard and wires.

#poetry

The Thing Is, Ellen Bass

to love life, to love it even
when you have no stomach for it
and everything you’ve held dear
crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,
your throat filled with the silt of it.
When grief sits with you, its tropical heat
thickening the air, heavy as water
more fit for gills than lungs;
when grief weights you like your own flesh
only more of it, an obesity of grief,
you think, How can a body withstand this?
Then you hold life like a face
between your palms, a plain face,
no charming smile, no violet eyes,
and you say, yes, I will take you
I will love you, again.

Government Spending, Tricia Lockwood

The government spent a Patricia on me,
“a huge waste,” it lamented, “when we could
have been spending it on another Nixon,”

the government spent all its beauty
on the great light leap on the deer-
crossing sign—there was hardly any
beauty left for anything else in America,
and looking around them the government
said,
           “Is there none left? Print more,”

you are born, you barely contain yourself,
you grow, inside you, someone spends
a billion to make prison more luxurious;
inside you, someone spends a billion
to keep libraries open one hour later;
then oh god, you feel wonderful,
                         you must be on welfare,

the government spent its whole education
on me, at least that is how it feels right now,
I am bursting with educational dollars,
I am bursting with other dollars as well,
I’m rounded up, I’m one long row of ohs,
I get so many commas
                     that the sentence doesn’t stop,

the dollars in me are a map of Missouri
my mother can’t fold back up, oh no the map
is everywhere, but I know the way, I am hot
on a trail, I am bursting with the dollars
that put that knowing breath in drug dogs,

all the spending of the space program is in me,
the stars seem especially close, this is because
they are a government handout, they are spending
millions on moonlight research, when I am President

I will cut the arts and let my right arm flow downhill,
I am ready, there is nothing trivial about me left,
I am eliminating the penny every second,

a dollar is peeled off a roll of thousands,
it is the day, the mint of it is in my mouth,
I open it, completely fresh.

Facts About the Moon, Dorianne Laux

The moon is backing away from us
an inch and a half each year. That means
if you’re like me and were born
around fifty years ago the moon
was a full six feet closer to the earth.
What’s a person supposed to do?
I feel the gray cloud of consternation
travel across my face. I begin thinking
about the moon-lit past, how if you go back
far enough you can imagine the breathtaking
hugeness of the moon, prehistoric
solar eclipses when the moon covered the sun
so completely there was no corona, only
a darkness we had no word for.
And future eclipses will look like this: the moon
a small black pupil in the eye of the sun.
But these are bald facts.
What bothers me most is that someday
the moon will spiral right out of orbit
and all land-based life will die.
The moon keeps the oceans from swallowing
the shores, keeps the electromagnetic fields
in check at the polar ends of the earth.
And please don’t tell me
what I already know, that it won’t happen
for a long time. I don’t care. I’m afraid
of what will happen to the moon.
Forget us. We don’t deserve the moon.
Maybe we once did but not now
after all we’ve done. These nights
I harbor a secret pity for the moon, rolling
around alone in space without
her milky planet, her only love, a mother
who’s lost a child, a bad child,
a greedy child or maybe a grown boy
who’s murdered and raped, a mother
can’t help it, she loves that boy
anyway, and in spite of herself
she misses him, and if you sit beside her
on the padded hospital bench
outside the door to his room you can’t not
take her hand, listen to her while she
weeps, telling you how sweet he was,
how blue his eyes, and you know she’s only
romanticizing, that she’s conveniently
forgotten the bruises and booze,
the stolen car, the day he ripped
the phones from the walls, and you want
to slap her back to sanity, remind her
of the truth: he was a leech, a fuckup,
a little shit, and you almost do
until she lifts her pale puffy face, her eyes
two craters, and then you can’t help it
either, you know love when you see it,
you can feel its lunar strength, its brutal pull.

I’m not sure how to get home,
so I’m outside your apartment.
I should tell you, I went
for the double whiskey sour.
and then a few whiskeys more.
I’m still much better at drinking
than stopping, unfortunately.

Earlier they were strippers, oiled
and beautiful, spinning like meat
on a spit. Earlier I thought of you.
How you were far away, where my hand
couldn’t wrap around the curve
of your thigh.

The sidewalks are glittering
from the rain and you are still
beautiful. This is me
throwing pebbles. If you want to,
please let me in.

I want to curl into the sweet expanse
of your back. I want to wake up,
make you coffee, make you laugh,
make myself into the person
who is worthy of you. You
have been strong so much longer
than I’ve been good.

To speak it simply now:
you are the whole of my heart.
You are the choke on my beer.
You are the last voice
before I shuffle off this mortal shitshow.

The constellations whispering to me
there will never be another one
like you. I want it written on my tombstone.
Let our love be how I’m remembered.

All this time
I drank you like the cure when maybe
you were the poison.

[Haiku] Eliza Kane

sleeping by myself
curled up like a question mark
come and answer me

Kimmy Walters

The Balance, Megan Falley

There were days when it looked like love,
especially if you turned down the volume.
But even if you didn’t.
Bus rides asleep on each other’s
shoulders, sharing an ear-bud
plugged into a song
as if sharing a secret.

Afternoons where we stayed in
our pajamas and played video games
after he bought us twin bodega sandwiches
and remembered mine without the meat.

And while I look back
on the memories with equal, if not more
repulsion, I know that I wasn’t an idiot
to stay. That my heart invented
its own verb which meant To Love
The Dog Who Licks The Scar It Gave You.

On a dirty bar couch on Valentine’s Day
he said I would fight with you every morning
if it meant I could kiss you at night and at the time
it didn’t sound like the Codependent National Anthem
or a vending machine where you put in fury
and get out passion

or even like the things I read now
in pamphlets—the ones I thrust upon other women
like my own righteous gospel—

it sounded like the sweetest thing
he’d ever said to me. A poem
I could fold real small and carry
around in my locket, not noticing, for months
how it also kind of
choked.

On Wanting to Tell [ ] about a Girl Eating Fish Eyes, Mary Szybist

—how her loose curls float
above each silver fish as she leans in
to pluck its eyes—

You died just hours ago.
Not suddenly, no. You’d been dying so long
nothing looked like itself: from your window,
fishermen swirled sequins;
fishnets entangled the moon.

Now the dark rain
looks like dark rain. Only the wine
shimmers with candlelight. I refill the glasses
and we raise a toast to you
as so and so’s daughter—elfin, jittery as a sparrow—
slides into another lap
to eat another pair of slippery eyes
with her soft fingers, fingers rosier each time,
for being chewed a little.

If only I could go to you, revive you.
You must be a little alive still.
I’d like to put this girl in your lap.
She’s almost feverishly warm and she weighs
hardly anything. I want to show you how
she relishes each eye, to show you
her greed for them.

She is placing one on her tongue,
bright as a polished coin—

What do they taste like? I ask.
Twisting in my lap, she leans back
sleepily. They taste like eyes, she says.

Johannesburg Mines by Langston Hughes

In the Johannesburg mines
There are 240,000 natives working.

What kind of poem
Would you make out of that?

240,000 natives working
In the Johannesburg mines.