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Wax Wings

cw: hospitalization, psychosis

I am sucking the Orange Tootsie Pop, which I got as a prize for attending

Ms. Susan’s Anger Management Bingo. I hold it like a cigarette and suck

occasionally as I walk past the dayroom.
My blue scrubs are thin enough to show my nipples,
and I tell my roommate I am Lolita. We are walking laps,

laughing about how the posted schedule calls it
Morning Walking Group when really we are yo-yoing from

Locked door to—

Double-paned window to—

Locked door to—

Double-paned window to—

The outside is an empty parking lot, no one on the street;

the heat shimmers, makes the air seem slippery.

The outside is a tableau and I am in pieces, not figuratively, but literally

chopped to bits, driving around Brooklyn in an ice cream truck, but

I am keeping my thoughts locked up tight,
because I wouldn’t want them to think I am psychotic,

when what I really am is un-
dead. You, however, are dead-dead.

The motion of the ice cream truck makes me feel sick.

But we walk because in a place like this,

boredom is as sharp as a knife,

we rattle with discomfort,
too anxious to sit still.


And More

cw: mentions of suicide and suicidal ideation

Wire frames

Suicide attempt.

I turn to Romeo,
I bet he reads
David Foster Wallace

Down the hall,
I shout: Hey! You read

David Foster Wallace?

Which of course you do.

But it is you, who says,
As we yo-yo back and
Forth before breakfast,
I bet you’ve read everything I’ve read

And more—

I wore this shirt for you
I say: It’s brown.
It’s black.

The corners of my mouth twitch

Your eyes sparkle.

A number scrawled with a bendy pen

On the breakfast menu as we eat

Raisin Bran and Bananas
Calls until you fell asleep,
slept fitfully, woke sweaty.

In a hotel room, a book signed

With laugher and cold hands,

I Love You!

You wrap your arms around me and say, Don’t die.

I say, You too.
And later,

I will not be able to handle it if you kill yourself.


I know; I won’t.


Call Me Crazy

cw: hospitalization, psychosis, suicidal ideation

On the floor, thrashing

Breath rapid as

Nothing spins in my

Head but rage
And an appetite
For striking matches

In the form of screams

Because something is

Wrong, inside—you

Wouldn't know it
On a day like today

For example,
I tell Luke I was crazy, he says

Oh you mean crazy

Like shitfaced
I say, no, I don’t

He says,
Oh you mean crazy

Like really high

He says,
You mean crazy
Like having an off day

No, I mean crazy
Like, spectators

Tickets to watch the play

In my living room
From the house

Across the street.

I choose Hamlet,

A play
Within a play

And within it
I am
On the floor,

To regulate

But still human,

Remember that

I mean crazy like
I am a regular
At the Kings
County Hospital

R-Building, where
The sinks don’t have

Knobs and daytime tv
Is spliced with static
Where I see my psychiatrist

Because she is concerned

I mean crazy like a
Suicide risk with a history

Fifteen day of meds at a time

To prevent the preventable
If possible

I mean crazy,
Not as a euphemism
But with kinship for the man

Unhinged on an F train
Who could have been me


Was me when I fled home

With my favorite things

In two Baggu bags
And a negative balance
In my checking account,
Going to the midwest
At 2 am outside penn station

Gave away my last cigarette

Posted my entire ambulance ride

On my story because I was


Now once a month I sit in a green chair
At the clinic at the Kings County Hospital R-Building

And wait for the nurse to stick a long needle

In my ass, feel the fluid push inside like
I am a wild creature that must be subdued

After a friend jumped, I wanted to see

How far down it went, and
I know, now that though you

See me as like you,
I see myself as like the man

Digging through the trash
At Jay St MetroTech,
Who i met in inpatient,
Like the woman just looking for $2,

Who sometimes forgets to ask

Because she is too busy
Talking to herself, but when
She tells me she
Loves me, I say it back

Ask anyone who’s ever loved me

If I’ve shattered their heart
And twisted the blade
Ask them and they’ll tell you

I’m crazy, like batshit
But human
And if something was wrong, inside

And I lost it on the F train,
Would you let them kill me too?

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NAOMI BRENMAN is a writer from Brooklyn. She graduated from Sarah Lawrence College, where she studied Creative Nonfiction and Religion. She now finds the brevity of poetry exciting. Her work draws on grief, and aims to amplify the experience of living with mental illness. Her work has been published in Red Noise Collective and Peach Fuzz, and Forever Magazine.

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