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
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.
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
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.
CW: depictions of hospital staff/hospitalization