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  • SM Stubbs

Two Poems

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 Pinch, The Normal School, Jabberwock Review, Cherry Tree, Poetry Northwest, Opossum, Atticus Review, and The Bookends Review.

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