Today, a lady said:
I stay with phones and bibles in my room, don’t sleep.
Never leave ’cause the windows let ’em in;
I see demons jumpin’ offa people,
and that’s why my gas bill’s high.
Even if I get rid of ’em, the shadows come
every every ever every where—that’s
how I got HIV.
And I said: do you have a bus pass?
Then a phone call:
I want to throw this here wienie dog.
I know, I know I shouldn’t have cut its tail
off, but it matches my eyes …
Make an appointment. How’s Friday?
A child eats my peppermints,
while her father cries. Another man
drinks a gallon of whiskey and shows
up right on time for anger management.
Here’s a tissue and a hotline.
Thank you, and come again. Please
drive-thru. See you next week.
At home. I hear their voices.
—from Rattle #34, Winter 2010
Tribute to Mental Health Workers
Michelle Amerson: “There is no magic pill or quick fix for mental illness. A large percentage of the people I see have substance abuse problems as a result of self-medication in addition to many of their basic needs not being met. I manage their cases as best I can. There are times when I feel like I just put band-aids over gushing wounds. Mental health workers help people every day, even if all they do is listen; but for my own sanity, I write.”