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The Last Resort Hotel

MYNA WALLIN is a poet living in Toronto, Canada. She has had three books published, the most recent one: Anatomy of An Injury (Inanna Publications, 2018). Myna’s poems have appeared in Juniper Poetry Journal, Carousel Magazine, Vallum Magazine, Unfortunately, Literary Magazine, Sledgehammer Literary Magazine, The Quarantine Review, NōD Magazine, and the Miramichi Reader. Upcoming poems will appear in The Antigonish Review and Anti-Heroin Chic Magazine. Myna has a master’s degree in English from the University of Toronto. She is honoured to have four of her poems in the inaugural issue of TheIR.

CW: psychiatric hospitalization, discussions of suicide

The Patient

CW: psychotropic medication, mania

The patient has been stable.

At interviews she is appropriately dressed.

Well-groomed with good eye contact.

She is alert, pleasant, cooperative.

 

During the assessment the patient appeared irritable,

made caustic remarks about previous professionals.

The patient is verbose. She shows

no evidence of perceptual disturbances.

Stated she “hates all men.”

 

Stopped taking valproic acid.

Showed no evident cognitive

dysfunction. She has discontinued

the trazodone. She was initially

angry then euthymic,

 

had numerous complaints regarding the food,

the colour of her room’s paint.

Was verbally abusive towards staff.

She denies feeling special powers.

 

The patient’s last episode sounds like a mixed state

with irritability, crying, and euphoria.

Her sensorium is clear, her memory

intact. The patient remarked she felt like she was

“going under.” Carbamazepine

would probably be the next drug

 

to consider. Thank you

for asking me to reassess this challenging case.

Snake Pit

When there are more sick ones than well ones,

by golly the sick ones will lock the well ones up.

~Mary Jane Ward

 

 

There’s a tough love nurse in every snake pit.

My nurse is mean, self-righteous, impatient

with my psychoses, and the toxic chemicals

roiling under my art therapy tiara.

Pulls me out of my shower’s cathartic cry,

refuses to acknowledge displays of weakness.

 

There’s a sour lunch lady in our day room—

cranky, passive-aggressive, hurling our saved

fridge treats into the trash,

pouring a full mint teapot down the drain

five minutes after setting it out, yanking

the kitchen’s aluminum grate closed after a half hour,

the less speedy patients going hungry.

 

She won’t give me tartar sauce packets

and this small, arbitrary denial

enrages me. I scream, lunge

at the tiny, hair-netted lady,

giving her exactly the show she’s been expecting.

 

There is a kind nurse or two roaming the night shift—

one’s gentle voice bathing me,

indulging me with popcorn, hot chocolate.

Another plays board games

and honours any innocuous request

to help the needy insomniacs pacing the halls,

bargaining for more meds.

I am one of the sleepless, buoyed by manic energy

that keeps me afloat ’round the clock.

 

A petition was sent to get the lunch shrew fired

but the level of cogency may not have equalled

our outrage. The lunch lady returns

banging trays and plates,

never smiling. Insulting

the collective sense of decency.

She Seems More Like Herself

Who was I last season?

 

That sharp-clawed raccoon

fought ghosts     the rush of noise

whooshing past her.

She tried to ignore the group

of marching shadow-people

inhabiting her bedroom nightly.

 

Perceptual hallucinations, the doctor called them

after she pronounced me Intact, neurologically,

wrote a new prescription.

 

That ringtail couldn’t sleep—

didn’t bother trying—

applying midnight magenta hair

leaving swathes of purplish-pink

over my white bath towels.

 

There were seven new pairs of shoes

in the closet, a new fetish

for bead-making, supplies littering

her apartment. Coloured

orbs rolled from under couch cushions.

 

My boyfriend later described me as

Bratty, impulsive,

angry. He wanted the familiar,

couldn’t extract it, pull

it out of me. Called me possessed.

 

My psychiatrist gives me 6.5

in terms of functioning,

tells me the good news is—

I’m trending in the right direction.

 

That bandit lost important things: house keys,

bank cards, reading glasses, then,

to prove nothing awry, spent

half the night searching for the hidden.

A new ward was being erected around us like a film set—

hammering, drilling, painting. A locksmith performed

magic on the main entranceway

next to the nurses’ station. A big clock

 

was hung in the day room, marking the beginning

of the long wait: for meals, for visitors, day-passes.

 

Doctors, nurses, and social workers hit

their marks, consulting charts, while

only a handful of us in various

states of disrepair had signed in.

 

We tried to oblige a young fellow who kept

changing his name. Was it Leo,

 

Leopold, Louie III, or Luigi?

Obsessed with hip-hop videos and Instagram,

he never ate. Nurses kept inquiring:

“Have you eaten today, Leo?”

 

A tall, slim, racoon-bruised woman

emerged. I didn’t know where

to look. A guileless male

 

patient asked what happened.

I did a really stupid thing. What did you do?

He prodded. I tried to kill myself.

 

She tried to describe the positioning, the falling,

but it became a jumble of Oh, I can’t explain this. You don’t have to answer—We told her,

it’s no one’s business. She preferred transparency.

 

A paranoid old man could hear “lousy communists!”

whispering in the corner.

 

While in the middle of a manic bout,

I threw shoes, shouting through walls, “Fuck this place!

I’m getting worse.” The doctors toyed

with my nightly cocktail.

 

Sleep was my Mt. Everest.

I had an oversupply of energy.

Night nurses cajoled me but the bed

felt smothering, blankets trapping

me, straitjacketing me,

a confusion of thoughts still

 

whirring. I told my psychiatrist

I was a published poet—

he raised an eyebrow,

a question mark. It never occurred to me

he might think me delusional.

 

Obsessed with laundry, cleanliness,

I slid on toasted socks from the dryer

 

daily. The more unstable I felt,

the cleaner I needed

 

to be. Every morning at 6 am, I showered

before everyone, hoping the searing water

would purify me, and wash

the crazy off of me.

 

I went to breakfast as morning light

streamed in, stabbed a deflated pancake,

sipped a perversely weak

mug of coffee, and pretended

I was a guest in a swanky hotel.

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CW: hallucinations

CW: depictions of hospital staff/hospitalization