what the voices say


there are whispers at the window
bubble stitched faces the brave ones at my desk
saying over so near to silence
that my coffee is a cup of dragons I
look and it is I’m the colour of crowns there’s
trespass in my coiling fingerprints
there’s a place in the park tonight
in the starry smoke that no one will know










Nurse Victory

the building coming down at the docks
was a thing in the war or some other romance
now hooded men stole its copper

but my body once slept inside
(it was derelict then too
but sheltered many)
that’s the point of this, the
angels in my pockets
winged pennies nickels & dimes
singing the Holy Holy Hosannas
& Torch Songs—

one is locked in tiny rooms
it turned out
for hearing such joy &
watched through tiny panes of glass

that’s how we met

hello Nurse Victory, I breathed
seeing her peek at me through the glass
me in my corner near the drain
(everything in a Psychiatric Quiet Room is near the drain)

from there I saw her once hopeful &
later at her Station so angry for marriage
never quite chill enough
for all the trend-setting psychotics &
never nearly as wise

I might have saved her
if not for the side-effects

& so the building comes down with the ball
Nurse Victory
where are you now?







highway of love

the falling to your knees part
—it’s preceded by the slackening of the gut
the rush of memories emotions and the
rude invisible interrupting itself
like so selfish a Saturday night

I have been commanded
to rid the Earth of its lava core
things like that the silver spoken/whispered/shouted
words with each its ripple light
bending in the heat off this highway
with its seldom traffic and turquoise cafés
and Jesus on Sundays on the radio

I love you I alone I alone and no one else I alone and no one else  for fuck sake

okay?!?    He  says    for the love of God!

like someone undone by prayer


fire safety

it comforts this one
to walk among razor blades

to do it & be
gifted with voices
a club of them wearing colours
like a football game &

I’ve stopped asking, do you hear?
because the you(s) in the room,
the visible(s), never could—
would catch fire if they did

so I’m glad it’s only me
fire safety being
so close to my heart






a prison for doppelgängers

“You’re so like me,” she said quietly, repeating what she’d said each day for more than two years, like a morning prayer to a man’s image in the mirror, the north light from the nearby window settling softly on each of their opposite cheeks. “And that makes me very sad.”

He spoke too. They spoke in unison, his lips moving with hers, translating her words into a language of reversal—it only happened when they met in the mirror. “And yet you’re so different,” she whispered.

The framed oval mirror was cracked. It hung on a wall in a room of a tall derelict house, the last evidence that the structure had once been a home. The house’s backyard was now an untended wilderness of bees, spider webs and feral cats. It had been a good house once. She and her doppelgänger had come there by chance, wandering and seeking shelter. She touched the mirror with the fingers of her right hand, and the fingertips of his left met them.

“Everyone has one, you know”, someone had said one evening over wine, “a ghostly equal.” It had been an unexpected topic of conversation put forth by a friend at a table of friends, out of step with their harmless banter, but fitting in well with the dark and cold October night. An impossible idea, of course. As obscure and mildly fascinating as necromancy, and they had all laughed, though some very quietly.

Moments later, she was surprised to suddenly feel that she was neglecting some important thing and that she, in turn, was being neglected, as though expressing the idea of an equal had caused a chrysalis somewhere to fracture and reveal something she’d wrongfully ignored all of her life.

It had been a spell cast innocently in conversation, her ghostly equal summoned somehow without any comprehensible effort and waiting for her, as it turned out, on the sidewalk across the street when she left the warm rooms where the gathering had taken place.

A cab nowhere in sight, they walked away together. She took him in, and they had remained together ever since. A man as unkempt as she had become with the masculine equivalents of her features, appearing always at her side and in every mirror and every shop window, eventually driving her mad. And having done this, he’d sat with her in psychiatry ward quiet-rooms as she raved and cursed him. He comforted her in her newly acquired homelessness, and hunger. Stood next to her as she begged strangers for change. Guided her away from assault and other physical harms. And he now occupied the derelict house with her.

She looked away from the mirror. He crouched in a corner now, surrounded by blankets and empty tin cans.

“You’ve ruined me,” she told him. He looked at his hands, and didn’t reply. “I realised it months ago, naturally, but I can only say it now.” Birdsong and the sound of bees came in through a broken window over the yard. “The only thing that’s kept me from killing you has been fear of my own death, but that’s nearly gone.” This got his attention; they were startling words. She’d said similar things before, but not with such weary conviction. “Something you should have seen coming,” she said. She turned to look in the mirror again. He looked back. She smashed the glass with her fist. His face vanished, and her hand bled.

She breathed the words, prison. Solitary confinement.

He remained in the corner.






in the alley behind the drop-in

beats being burned at the stake
Tina says of her ECT
and though it’s true that in our age
mad women are not witches
she has nonetheless
been rendered ash

and fuck! I spit

but I need something she says
(her dealer has an office in a hospital)
everything’s so somethingless and
I can still hear black

so, I cover her ears with my hands
—conjurations and orbits—I hear them too
and a voice saying it won’t be pretty
she’ll out last you all
she’ll out last you all
she’ll out last you all