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Here, souls escape their lifelong baggage on the third floor
and take the elevator up.
Away from the machines that breathe
waiting below, not permitting death or life.
Where the chemical they use
to clean the floor and cook the food is a thin veneer
to the smell of decay lurking in the rooms with all the wilting people.
Metal-eyed, they roll the trays around every so many hours
measuring only quantity to keep you alive
and to put you to sleep
at the same time.
Routinely they record the number of breaths
taken by lungs that can no longer laugh.
They tried to fix his weary heart by replacing it
with a sleek new one.
Couldn’t be broken anymore, they liked to laugh, but I knew
he’d be back too soon, unhooking his plastic
lifelines and turning his bed toward the window
so he’d be able to look up at the sky.