this isn't a poem or an attempt at a poem, just thoughts as they come to me


both sides of the glass










by way of an internship

of sorts

i work saturday mornings at the hospital

on the adolescent ward

the psych ward


four years of saturdays


i have worked this trope before

without luck


the theme is this


while on the ward

we, myself and the other volunteers, sometimes 

play games with the kids, the kids

being our age, some younger, some quite a bit younger


one fine spring day

or is it a nasty winter day

oe a colorful fall day


i find myself on the floor

playing a game with four or five of the kids


most didn't have the attention span

for games

but a few do and can


it is then i see i am being observed

through the ward observation window

by a team of interns and doctors


hmm, think i, they can't tell

the difference between us

we are on the wrong side of glass


later that day we have our weekly review

and i sit on the proper side of the glass




it's a fine line




i visit a friend, a friend of the family, once or twice a month

in a nursing home

an elderly man with a disease

which has rendered him senile and failing


ten years now, has it been that long, ten years 

or worsening senility and failing


he sees me and smiles

sometimes he whispers lynn, and his eyes shine

sometimes not

but usually


we talk

he makes no sense and he cannot be heard

his voice is but a whisper

except when he has a mind to be heard


he is a dream state

or he is a nightmare state

one or the other

but never in this state


he sings songs occasionally

that even his wife of fifty years has never heard


he tells stories

we catch names that are familiar

but the rest in unknowable


then he drifts away


his eyes shutter

his head falls forward

and he is gone




i look around the room 

of this quaint little nursing home

this rehab center that no one ever leaves

on their own locomotion


i see a dozen, two dozen, three dozen 

gray heads

all drooping


i see faces that register nothing

while the tv plays bonanza over and over and over again

volume at max

though no one is listening

each in their own dream or nightmare


how i've come to hate little joe


i look around the room and think


just wait babycakes

they did nothing to deserve this

and neither will you




rarely is there agitation


either they are resigned or unknowing

as is my friend


their day is a ritual 

of being raised from the bed

diapers changed

washing up

then breakfast and first meds


by the time breakfast is cleared

and the last dribble wiped from the last chin and the floor mopped


it is time for lunch


the afternoon passes in the lounge, the tv 

doing its bonanza thing

all but a few in wheelchairs, sitting on their sores

heads cocked to the side or back

or fallen forward as is my friend's


a few sit in comfy leather chairs 

some nod to me in recognition, some even converse 


but never


never with one another

each man and woman an island unto themself


once rocks, now pebbles




i never regret going

but it is hard to make myself go


i try to time my visits with the noon meal or supper


to feed my friend

spoonful and forkful by spoonful and forkful 

of over-cooked carrots

and brown meat and canned peaches and pudding

as i tease and joke and sing


anything to make him smile

to make those eyes shine again


and by doing so

relieve one of the staff to feed another

for each staff member has a table in their charge

and few of their charges can or will feed themselves


they have no appetite


it is remarkable

how little they can eat and survive

and how the few sips of drink keep them hydrated

and how an almost total

absence of sunlight causes their skin to become translucent

and how frail and gone they become


i also notice how the faces change over time

as one by one the living replace the dead


yet they all look the same


the ladies with their blue-gray hair done nicely, always nicely

and the men shaved, and their hair, if they have it, combed


but don't look too closely

it isn't pretty




that's the trope, observation on both sides of the glass


i love my friend

i don't think he is unhappy

or happy

he simply is

and someday he will cease being 


and someday i will cease being

and we will be on the same side of glass


han shan would call this crossing the river

we call it dying

we all do it, it takes no effort, no skill, no particular talent

it is quite a bit harder not to do it




i do think of putting a pillow

over his face


when he no longer smiles and whispers lynn, i may


but he does still smile and whisper lynn


and holds out his hand for me to take, which i take

and rub those knotted, quaking hands


and every time i tell myself


i am not doing this when the time comes


but if i've learned anything 

it is that by the time the time comes, it is too late

they've got you

and they're going to keep you alive

through all your misery, until bit by bit by eroding little bit 

the rock becomes a pebble

and then poof! you're a grain of sand

and they roll in another

that looks just like you, and set the lock on the wheelchair, as if

and wipe the dribble

and wipe the bottoms

and feed the faces

and change the sheets

and dress the wounds

and force the meds

and smile

and say isn't it a pretty day

and how are you this morning 

and you smile or drool or look up

as if something familiar just flitted by, something you can't quite place




the glass is mirrored on one side

they can see you, you cannot see them


the glass is clear, you see what is on the other side

but cannot touch it, but they cannot touch you, fair trade


the glass is silvered, you see yourself

it gets no worsea than this




there is another kind of glass, a magic glass

the kind virginia sees through

sees a magical world 

of waving hands, her own, in the sky


her hands held high and float

and she follows them around and around

wherever they go she follows

dancing to the rhythm of her hands


this is the glass world of schizophrenia

a magical, make-believe land

of heavy meds and hallucinations

a world in which you are never alone


but it is a fragile world, broken glass

lies everywhere, in shards, waiting to cut




at night, riding home on the bus, 

i watch the city lights, which i love

and i see in the window my reflection


i look somber and pretty and alone

and i look away, look at the others

look at my book, listen to my music


at home, washing my face before bed

i open the medicine cabinet door

so the mirror faces the wall


but even the screen on my laptop

reflects my image in the right light

and i see my hands on the keyboard


and i dance to their rhythm

as every word reflects something of myself




one time, after terri took a shower

i made her stand in front of the mirror


a full length mirror on a closet door

and i said, this is what i see when i look at you




the only mirrors

on the adolescent ward


are above the sinks

polished steel and scratched


that may be why the kids

care so little about their appearance


and may be why

attitude is so important


they know they are 

on the wrong side of mirror


all day long they see themselves

only as others seem them


a reflection of themselves

in someone else's eyes




all this about glass and mirrors

now it's time to close my eyes

shutter my own eyes

let my head droop where it will


all this is about trying to shed a feeling

a very unhappy feeling

words as distraction, tropes as engagements

the more intricate the thought process


the greater the distraction

without terri the words become more vital

i've fallen upon my own resources

the magic kisses having gone away


i can take comfort in where i am

safe within my own room, not everyone can say that




small comfort
















Poetry by one trick pony The PoetBay support member heart!
Read 424 times
Written on 2015-07-14 at 06:07

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