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Two poems by Rosamund Handler

Psychiatric emergency

Boredom smells damp
the floor rises to her tongue
sits there, a throbbing molar
she’s grateful for the pain
the waiting room no oasis
the grey walls won’t engage
the vinyl chair cracked from agitated bums
agitates hers
morsels of the day
pincered by sunlight
skim lino floors
scabbed by tooth and nail
and the empty eyes of
those who have seen
green grass recently
now fast fading to black
to zero tolerance
for being where
the ceiling is glaze-eyed

where hands hang
lifeless things
even when a scream
drops into the thirsty air
lands in a smudge on the floor
like a secret she cannot divine
though she feels it wormy
beneath her inauthentic skin

she closes her eyes
feels her shoulder blades in
the palms of your hands
that ancient summer
when you and she and
dope and Jimi Hendrix
once exonerated yourselves



Stippled with light
my grown son
splayed like some inert
sun-drenched amphibian
in a disorder of
limbs and linen
clutches at sleep
with clenched fists
squeezes from it
oblivion like a love affair
without peaks or plateaus

leprechaun memory
tousles his hair
freckles his nose
flashes the grin
of a small boy
turned fugitive from
outsize dreams