Edith Goldenhar’s poems have appeared in Hawai’i Review, Indiana
Review, Laurel Review, The Mom Egg, and Yellow Silk. As a writer on progressive social change,
her articles and op-eds are published in such journals as The Stanford Social Innovation Review and The
Chronicle of Philanthropy. Earlier in her career, she served as the first program director of Poets House in
New York City and taught workshops at the Frost Place in Franconia, New Hampshire.
In the language—I mean mental—hospital
I fall in love with the way schizophrenics speak in poems.
They don’t call it a zoo for nothing.
I’m young and artsy and cheery. Join us in the Common Room!
Moon-Girl, Tuneful Noon? Meet you in the Comma Room?
And my fucking cigarette? A lot of dirty words.
Play a character, not yourself, I say. From a myth,
not whatever landed you in Seven South
and Quiet Room padded beige and pink.
Oh. You don’t feel like coming to Group.
You’d rather curl on the green sofa or kill yourself.
You can feel like killing yourself and still attend.
Silver Silo. Go Below. Knotted rope down a slope.
Shithole. I scurry to the bathroom with my notebook. I jot.
Zebras on a savanna and me clicking my big-nose Nikon.
Am I helping the young man inert by the window, his stubble
bathed in pale sunshine? The coarse lady—a stripper
in the original cast of Gypsy? I think myself a scribe
of Miss Mazeppa. Get the Noose, Goose. Thrilled when Sarah
returns again from her Hasidic family, Jesus this time,
caplet of hair released from her wig, coming on to the bald man
whose mother brings candy so the nurses, they’ll treat him good.
It’s a long time before I stop collecting, before I stop
sucking their troubled fuel with a hose. Years later,
in my quiet room. I learn to avoid adornment, metaphor.
To use plain and dirty words if I want to be heard.