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Lexington Poetry Month
article by
Samantha Ratcliffe

I smoke a bowl in the bathroom 
and think everything is strange outside of my house.
They’re all batshit, even my own family.

The neighbor’s wife laughs hard in the front yard.
She’s in a cornhole match with Mexican children that aren’t her own.
Last week she admitted her husband sleeps on the couch.
She’s mad he keeps burning the new suede cushions.

He drinks on the porch every night with Lackey from 206.
Lackey asks to borrow their outside rocking chair for short periods of time.
He doesn’t own chairs.
He moved his bed onto the living room floor recently.
I know because he keeps his door open during the day 
And when I walk by I can hear his piss stream
Echoing from the bathroom of the shotgun style apartment.
Our triplex is the co-ed dorm of a mental ward.
Once he tried to hand me a pound of raw meat,
Rang my doorbell five times and asked if I would cook it later
for us to eat together.

Down the street, five people and five animals live in my grandmothers house.
They think spraying will get rid of their bedbugs.
I only sit in the kitchen, never on my mother’s new suede couch
that she donated in her most recent divorce.
When I get home I immediately take my clothes off 
and wash them in hot water.
I won’t call my landlord to fix my leaky washer 
because this house is a cozy fire hazard.
He wouldn’t understand why anxiety insists
that I cover the ceilings and walls.
Low hanging colors hug the panic right.

My aunt has bruises on her collarbone tonight
from defending against an angry ex-relative’s fists.
Threats at a child’s party about my cousin’s divorce to a quadriplegic.
Is it abuse if a wheelchair is pushing you against a fridge door?
When your toes are sore with wheel marks because you deserved it today?
When you hear his angry voice calling your name
from his living room hospital bed
Yelling for you in his sleep.
He’s angry you woke him up.
Is it PTSD if you still hear him calling you
Even after you get out, in the middle of the night
is it harassment if he still won’t let you sleep?

One response to “Mental”

  1. Melva Sue Priddy says:

    This reads poignantly in several ways.

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