Leah Armstead

In The Hospice

Here I know you for real

Here I break bread for you

Here I am hungry for your cornucopia of fruits

Here I know you are weary

Here I know you are gray against the sun

Where is the gold star that is sacred to you?

Where is the stone that heals your ills?

Where is the Cross for your burial?

Where is the pearl of your ancestors?

Where is the potion you swallow for strength?

You are silver-haired and thin, and big-hearted

You are sad and weakened from so much life

You are smiling with false teeth like ivory

You are old but your bones ache with birth

You are breathing words of a mysterious song

Sectioned: Hospital Poems


He was pronounced dirty on arrival.

Being locked up wasn't on his list

of things to do before he died, but

he didn't have a choice. Here he was.

He was stripped, given a cool shower

and clean clothes, and a purple juice

to drink with salty stale peanuts

and crackers. Everyone was crackers.

Everyone was nuts. Nuts—everywhere!

Shame unzipped its pants. Exposed.

But exposed as what? He couldn't nail it

on the head. It was a game, and everyone

was playing as if their life depended on it.


And what else is on my mind:

the elf-child digging a hole in my brain.

Snake-infested pillars that hold up the world.

A grinning idiot that looks exactly like me.

Peek a Boo. Yes, it's you. Upside-down.

Leah Armstead © 2008