photo of abandoned mental hospital

Mental hospital by Ross Robbins

Mental hospital, my belly is
blood in open mouths, only
static comes back as they pin
me, a contented glaze in a
defective crystal, snap it back
as they are scrambled here,
white noise in the halls, no
reprieve. Now Karen chain-
smokes Camels, gripping them
out in the halls. I have healed
through two shots. Skull is a
bitter bastard. Quartz bones
poke through my eyes. I
scream, “All of John Lennon
contains messages from these
Sunday afternoons!” The
patients restrain me to carve
the sap out. Spratt Wing is
littered with skulls, nothing we
would cheek. Our fathers were
human, too. The water sprays. I
restrain me without choking.
The black ceiling, oh, I am a
starfish. Depression is a
fluorescent bulb. I slash myself
on a very personal level. I let
the sap out, smear it, lick it. My
quartz bones poke through my
roots, my roots. Redden my

Ross Robbins lives and writes in Portland, Oregon. His poems have appeared in BlazeVOX, HOUSEFIRE, Nailed Magazine, Vinyl Poetry, and others. His chapbooks, 80 Poems and I want to say how I feel and be done with it forever, are available from Powell’s Books, and the latter was selected as the Independent Publishing Resource Center’s January 2014 Zine of the Month. Visit Ross online at

Lead image“Lier Mental Hospital” (via Flickr user Jarle Naustvik)