Two Poems

May 24, 2019


Asylum Tonight 


In the purple zone I am royalty, leniently treated.  

          This is off the corridor of smudged plum, where 


King George haunts the day room and Ludwig  

          of Bavaria won’t stop building castles. Flashes  


strobe outside our windows as damp bullets shaped  

          like raindrops pop! Someone hands me a candle,  


thinks my clothes won’t ignite, thinks it means  

          an end to darkness. Voices shuffle across tiles. When  


the screaming game begins even the paint on  

          the walls hurts my skin. It doesn’t matter if I don’t  


know what’s real, a fluorescent flick watches over  

          me. Some nights it hums hymns; some nights the  


room expands like a lung. I may have a fever. I may  

          reenact my own burning man. I have a story to tell  


starring the silhouetted trees beyond the fence.  

          At sundown they fracture the fine sky with cracks.  





Asylum Vacation  


In which saints wired upright along the walls  

           bless us from their shawls and faded shrouds.  


Their skulls list and lean as if remembering  

          their dried tongues. I can’t recall if this  


is a nightmare or our vacation in Palermo,  

          a crypt thick with anxious dead. These vessels  


show us how we are an operating theater  

          with popcorn for the show. A beetle chews  


on the strings linking breast plate to spine.  

          Have you read the reports? The physicists  


are helpless. A man touches the thin web  

          of one’s hair. Without their flesh they’re the same,  


he says. Sometimes the truth is an exit ramp  

          next to a gas station selling peanut brittle;  


sometimes a fist of thirsty starlings circle and  

          circle a beauty we have to tilt our heads to see.   





SM Stubbs is the co-owner of a bar in Brooklyn, NY. He grew up in South Florida and received an MFA from Indiana University. He is the recipient of a scholarship to Bread Loaf and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and for the Best New Poets anthology. His work has appeared in The PinchThe Normal SchoolJabberwock Review, Cherry Tree, Poetry Northwest, Opossum, Atticus Review, and The Bookends Review.





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