By: Mark Tulin
In the Asylum
I remember the voices in the asylum.
The screams bouncing off the walls.
Nurses dropping pills into paper cups.
The aides rolling blood-pressure monitors
down the halls.
All the doors were locked,
the windows were faded,
visitors had to be approved
and enter at their own risk.
No sharps or shoestrings
for fear that I might
slice my wrists or hang
from a door hinge.
In the dark of the evening
when the intrusive voices grew,
I jumped off the deep end
into a psychotic freefall.
The nurse got out the needles,
brought the leather straps,
a code blue was announced
and I was officially labeled a fucking mess.
They tried to silence me
in a padded room,
sealed my lips in cellophane
with no one to talk to
Just a man’s eyes I saw
through the narrow slit
of my locked door.
I once dreamed of sleeping
with a silver-throated poet,
a naked siren
of verses and rhymes.
I dreamt she was the goddess of words
and kissed her with my Joyce Carrol Oats mind.
I nibbled her neck as D. H. Lawrence looked on,
encouraging her to whisper to me
in sonnets and soliloquies.
Ferlinghetti and Ginsberg gave the beats
in a cool and jazzy rhythmic flow
while I made some raunchy comments
much like the Charles Bukowski kind.
The silver-throated poet moaned with pleasure
as I recalled the works of Keats,
and got kinky when it was E.E. Cummings turn
to kiss the other cheek.
Allusions and alliterations,
metaphors that left us reeling,
free verse that had no ending,
smoking cigarettes under a crescent moon,
embracing my silver-throated poet,
we were never at a loss for words.
The Solitary Retreat
I took a solitary retreat
in the mountains.
For two weeks,
I looked deeply within,
thinking only about myself
and my place on the planet.
There were no distractions,
no people to care for,
no one telling me what and how
I should think.
I only ate basic food,
lived in the woods,
peed in an outhouse,
showered under the falls,
slept on a lumpy cot,
and gazed through the top of a yurt
into the sky.
It wasn’t about
keeping my mind free of worry,
it was about being,
mindful of the bees, the rollings hills
and the owls hooting in the Pines.
It was about finding the voice
inside of me
that I seldom have time to hear.
It was about the spirit,
I needed to restore.
Thinking About Dying
Thinking about dying makes me think
of spending time with people
who make me smile,
eating my favorite flavor of ice-cream,
breathing in the fresh air of a summer day
after a rainfall.
Thinking about dying makes me focus
on those precious moments
that bring me joy
and turns a gloomy day into a rainbow-colored sky
and not getting so annoyed
by the slow service of the cashier
or the traffic jam on the interstate
or the way the hair stands
awkwardly on my sparsely-covered pate.
Thinking about dying tells me
not to worry about filling a cavity
or checking the mirror
to see if all those wrinkles
on my forehead would go away.
Thinking about dying allows me
to let go of the vanity
and all the meaningless things
that holds me back
from living a more grateful life.
Mark, I want to respond to your strong and beautiful poems but several of these together
is difficult to address properly. Let it suffice that The Asylum had me in tears, The Solitary retreat gives peace with humour. The silver throated poet … is just that.
Wrapped it all up in his colourful hues.
Thank you, Miriam
You totally created the feeling of being incarcerated in an asylum!
Thanks, Malcolm. I worked in many of these hospitals. I couldn’t help but feel their circumstances.
Loved these In The Asylum is so gritty and confronting, but Solitary Retreat is something I do, great stuff.
Thanks, Paul for your perspective.