Awaken at five thirty to shower,
but these days we slumber til seven when the water
flows, down in the pipes. Another morning,
Bedmaking is next on the ward. I hardly
make my bed when it belongs to me, so
I will make this strange one in homage to
mine. I do not hurry as breakfast is next
at eight. It is fresh and tastes bad.
Sometimes I wonder
if bad things are stirred in to kill
me off like any famous assassination
I have been taught about.
The one about Fifty Cents' mother
is planted at the forefront of my mind's garden
but only when I need to be
The conspiracy theory is always my dependable ticket
to therapeutic rehab.
Another breakfast, dear God...please bless the good
in this food and let it nourish
and strengthen my body. Please flush out
the bad in the food
from my body.
A Muslim friend taught me the importance
of blessing food; I do it gladly.
If not, I would not write the minutiae...
it would still be in my head,
on this ward.
Nine o' clock we trek downstairs for vital signs.
Check my pressure - it's high.
Check my pulse - I don't understand
the significance of numbers there
nor in the count of my
My titties heave though.
I can say that word now
but I still feel that forked,
insidious, sting of a serpent mother.
Mother Dearest, I have pretty titty.
And the right people touch them now -
The thing about vital signs is that you must conquer
your thoughts, think calmly
of pleasant things
so that your readings will be indicative of good health.
Don't think of all the filth of the past,
that makes you visit this hell hole
for the fourth time in a row...
Think of making passionate love as you can and should.
It helps bring down that erratic pressure.
After vitals, upstairs we return for devotion.
Gather in a circle, sing hymns and pray,
read the Bible.
Being a "Twenty-One Veteran" I know
that the more you participate
the quicker you get released...
theoretically speaking. The doctors
have to say that you are ready to return
to your life.
Another devotion, off-key singing
but prayers that sound sincere.
By ten-thirty we have interviews
with either our assigned doctor or nurse for the day.
Sometimes I am calm, once in a while I get offended.
At the start of my stay, I am rarely calm.
I am mad.
Nothing I say makes sense to anyone but me.
The interviews are daily, the medication is adjusted as
the notes are compared.
Eventually the patient should come around.
....Another interview: please don't ask me fuckery
or why I'm looking so blank
in my mind.
Can you see my mind?
At eleven, we have "Group" - whether
art class, coping skills or newspaper group.
The Art teacher is white, I am not. She behaves
like I am a walking flame that has burnt her finger
badly as I take a crayon from her.
She asks me about my first drawing which is a cross
between a bear, a duppy, the wind and the smile of
a loved one. She is like the wife who catches the bottle
of poison instinctively, instead of dropping on cue
to prove indifference.
First of three art classes then she goes into hiding
after being traumatized by my drawing of
Beavis and Butthead kissing and being portrayed
as a man and woman,
King and Queen.
I do two coping skill classes with Barney the Dino; who misquotes
Desiderata, saying that it speaks of cantankerous preachers. I wonder
how that could even be connected to what is to be
desired in life?
Barney the Dino is not purple; he is white too.
Coping skills is nice though. I talk a lot. I do everything
in my power to co-operate...because I want to go
home. The ward is not my home.
Lunch is at twelve. Nothing to report
other than that at the start, I saved
every description of the menu
that described my meals.
It was the week I left
that we began to get the chance to choose
what we wanted to eat
from limited options. The food even improved in taste.
After lunch, medication for some, for others it is
after breakfast and for all
it is before bed.
What to say about medication?
Some people need it, others don't,
while many use medication for other
diseases. Even sexually transmitted
diseases seem to be more acceptable than
They did not know what to do
with us after a while. So we did interviews
at intervals and then concentrated
on the main activity -hanging out
in the day room. Torn, soiled and smelly
furniture but fresh hospital blue
Ludu, dominoes, french dominoes, checkers
"My father's name is Fred Flintstone."
"Moses knew it was God talking to him through
the burning bush, because the bush was actually
a Ganja plant burning."
"Is a thirty-six or a thirty-eight mi want fi buss some shot
I made friends with a soul that reminded me of a messy
ex who still has my heart. He has a big burn scar -
when he told me the origin, I knew he was sick,
but I didn't judge him. I accepted him
because he accepted me.
He was my main friend; to others I was distant
The day before I left, grandmother came for a visit.
The girls in the room made one big ruckus
over a croaking lizard
that stood stationary in the ceiling
directly over my bed.
I grumbled that they should calm down
because I was trying to sleep.
It is now, as I once more am home,
battling with a brazen ground lizard
that has taken over my bedroom that I say
"Dear God, Thank You."