Submission Guidelines

Friday 18 May 2012

Sandy Benitez-

Following the Monarch
The past was a dark tree
whose diseased leaves
I wanted to pull
and pick apart
until it was barren
and grasp the heart pained inside.
In the same way
my body a hollow shell
carried melancholy like a cocoon
my mouth shut but never sewn
by a stranger's needle and thread.
A sigh emerges from my mouth
like a monarch.
I try to follow in haste.
But the present is too far gone;
the future a broken jar.
The Sanitarium
The horizon cracks open its
shell, revealing the sun; a
scarlet-tinged orange yolk. 
Below, the ancient sanitarium
awakens to the sound of nurses
and orderlies prowling the narrow
hallways like fallen angels
searching for lost souls. 
Doctors smooth out the wrinkles
on their white coats and foreheads.
Charts are prepared.  Medications
are lined in rows of 4 next to
plastic cups of water.  A final
meal?  Behind a locked door, a
zombie moans.  Punches padded walls
looking for a way out.  Further
down the hall, a young woman
scribbles Help me on the walls
with an invisible pen she found
beneath the bed; her fingers raw
and bloody.  In the media room,
the television sings a song of
static as patients rock to and fro.
A skeleton of a man stands frozen
in time as a statue, gazing out the
window at the watercolored world
outside.  He'd seen enough of hell.
But Heaven was just beyond his reach.
Wiederspahn Funeral Home
As we approached the funeral home,
we heard the sound of Taps.  Old men
stood at attention like rusty hangars;
wrinkled uniforms dangling. Stained with age.
I felt as though we were trespassing. 
Invading their peace as enemies did long ago.
I wanted to tell them I was here for
other reasons.  Raise a white flag.  Surrender.
We were greeted at the front door by chimes
and a woman dressed in a black pantsuit.
Or maybe the angel of death.  The difference
wasn't so disparate.  She smiled at us
with a practiced sympathy etched in laugh lines;
a ventriloquist's puppet whose expression
never changed.  Just the tone of the voice.
We were led to a room with movie props:
a wooden desk that resembled a puzzle box,
plastic chairs from a trailer park,
and orange curtains from the 1970s. I began
to wonder if we were in the right place.
That's when the smell hit me.  The scent of
wintergreen mints in a candy dish.  Mingled
with an inescapable odor.  Moldy.  Ancient. 
As if the cleaning lady neglected to vacuum. 
Leaving behind remnants.  Layers of death.

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