Foghorns. Train whistles. Red lights. Blue lights.
Stupor of fatigue and worry. Unchanging smell.
Carefully neutral walls. Nondescript corporate art
between painted signs and arrows. Over-lighted
miles of hallway. Sterile fluorescent light.
Glassed in skywalks. Elevators up. Down.
Like an airport. Like I should remove shoes,
step in a glass chamber, hands behind head.
Like a prison. Series of doors close behind me.
Claustrophobic. Volatile. I move drunken gaited
through thoughtless air. Code blues like wildfires.
Dry-eyed monitors. Self-conscious plastic chairs.
I try to think, try not to think. Don’t connect
these dots. Keep it nebulous. Undefined. Sit alone.
Recite a poem. Escape tyranny of subconscious.
Think of this room as a stage. Doctors as actors –
TV melodrama. Frigid air laps, waves
against an empty hull. Words leap. Bounce. Wail.
Await echo. I don’t know how to react.
Ann Howells edited Illya’s Honey for eighteen years. Her recent books are: So Long As We Speak Their Names (Kelsay Books, 2019) and Painting the Pinwheel Sky (Assure Press, 2020). Chapbooks include: Black Crow in Flight, Editor’s Choice in Main Street Rag’s 2007 competition and Softly Beating Wings, William D. Barney Chapbook Competition winner (Blackbead Books, 2017). Ann’s work appears in small press and university publications including Plainsongs, I-70 Review, and San Pedro River Review.