My mom says I love you as she holds onto my hand
She’s crying, and I don’t understand why.
I don’t understand why my mother is crying
When I am the one, in the crazy house, looney bin, bedlam, asylum, institution.
The nurses nudge me, and we know it's time to part
They lead me to a room, and strip me to undershorts.
I am cold and vulnerable
I feel like all my insides are outsides and I’ve been flipped upside down.
My clothes are searched, my shoe laces removed, and the drawstring to my running shorts cut out
In a t shirt and sweats, I'm directed to a mattress on the floor
Every ten minutes a nurse walks by, and checks to see
If i'm still breathing.
Count sheep, yawn, sleep on your side, your back, one leg over the other.
“Sometimes, it helps to just think of a place you’d like to be” says the nurse on her third rotation
40 minutes. That's how long it takes for me to fall asleep
The thump, thump, thump of the mattress wakes me up
An older man grabs my arm, and yanks my groggy form
I shuffle along, unaware of my destination, but i can feel the gaze
Of my fellow inmates watching their newest compatriot
The doctor sticks a needle in the vein of my marked up arm
They say they’re testing for drugs
I laugh only to receive confused looks
This isn’t just a loony bin, it's rehab too
For meth and crack and acid and any other concoction you can inject or snort or swallow
After they’re done doing their experiments and tests,
I shuffle out feeling violated, and anxious
This could be a lunar landscape
That is how alien this all seems
For the next ten days this is my home.
John!? Says a boy. Oh god I think, the jig is up, I'm done it's over everyone will know
That I’m the crazy boy
And then he says, you look so happy in school
I laugh and think for moment
On how no one really knows what I’m living through
All because I smile
Group time! Shouts a guard, i mean nurse, excuse me,
And she has this brilliant smile spread across her face
28 teenagers, from thirteen to eighteen
All shuffle in like a dysfunctional breakfast club.
In a circle we sit, and go through our crimes
Methamphetamines says one boy
Crack says an eighth grade girl
And one by one we all tell our tales of woe
From emptied pill bottles to runaways from home
And eventually all eyes fell on me
In shades of the greenest green to the bluest blue
“Well,” I started,
“One night when it was all too much and i felt too alone
I sat in my car
In my garage
And let it run
And now i'm here,”
Now by this time, four boys were crying, and half a dozen girls were too
But sitting there, in this circle of disjunction and and empathy, i realized, i am not alone,
I am among many friends.