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Cheap Carnival

by Nick Pipitone

In psych wards, they take your belt
and anything you could use to hurt yourself.
When I’m there, I fear the world will kill me.

I give them my belt
and talk to others there with me
and identify with compatriots
that remind me of:

ancient, white-haired women who look like washerwomen of Celtic myth, who start fights and cackle and perhaps know they’ll never leave;

heavyset bald men who bemoan that we put people on the moon but can’t cure mental illness;

muscular young men with anger in their eyes, who develop psych-ward romances and hate the world for what it’s done to them.

They follow me when I leave.
I collect my belt,
step into bright worlds and
pretend I wasn’t here.

It’s a secret I keep to myself.
The wiring in my brain is faulty,
producing highs and lows
like a wooden rollercoaster
at a cheap carnival.

I take my meds,
knowing after years of this routine
that stability is the goal I strive for,

not dogmatic bullshit about enlightenment,
nor 12-stepping charlatans
preaching about heaven and hell.

Copyright © 2021 by Nick Pipitone

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