— This poem uses excerpts from a sculpture created by a patient at Glore Psychiatric Hospital, St. Joseph, Missouri
This letter is written on thin strips of foam glued together
in the shape of a dust storm. (This letter says, I didn’t have
a place to love.) This letter functions as a wormhole.
(This letter says, Both places and ladies seem to spoil.)
This letter provides scaffolding for the nerves and veins
that will grow around it in time. (This letter says, I seen,
but now I’m blunted.) This letter hangs in a child’s nursery.
(This letter says, Sleeping, everything is out in the open.)
This letter is a tunnel used by ants when they travel
underground. (This letter says, Because I’d do it, too,
if I’d thought of it first.) This letter is as three-dimensional
as a body. (This letter says, Gag and taser his ass to set
a boy right.) This letter can be climbed to scale fences
and peer over rooftops. (This letter says, Are some people
lazy? Fact is, it’s all of them.) This letter is a platform
that the pitiful jump from. (This letter says, Okay. You gotta
not be okay.) This letter lives inside two worlds: one of
imposed order and one of sweet discord. (This letter says,
I sit in meetings learning to love sucking dick.) Held to the ear,
this letter lets you hear the ocean. (This letter says, Ass
and glory in youth.) This letter is the boning for a fine gown
hanging in a dressmaker’s display window. (This letter says,
I mean fuck the world.) This letter can be read and read again.
(This letter says, Worthless words concerning what I feel.)
This letter is a Chinese finger trap. (This letter says,
Everything sucks today. I wasn’t even going to bother.)
by M Ross Henry
M Ross Henry lives and writes in the lower Missouri River Basin. The motto of the state where M lives is ad astra per aspera, meaning "to the stars through difficulties," which captures not only the essence of the human condition but also the attempt to capture that condition in and through poetry.