Madness

Sam Sax

Poems on themes of queerness, mental health, and STI stigmas. Structured around an excerpt of the DSM-I (from 1952), it fractures and reframes around these concepts throughout the four sections. A couple titles get revisited exactly across the book: Psychotherapy, On Prep or on Prayer; while Diagnosis progresses from Pre to Post. Madness felt more intense than I was expecting, even though it’s candidly so from the start. I had to let it sit for a while, but when I dug back in complexity was all the richer.

Klonopin

a doctor names the chemical imbalance in my brain

& suddenly there’s an infant wailing up there.

i swear the cradle appeared concomitant

with the diagnosis, a migraine-white mobile wail.

i say moderation is a red swamp i’m always bicycling

toward, it recedes the more i believe in it. you say

it’s a simple swallowing & flood, the pram an ark

afloat in the choking basement. angels slum

in the aggregate gray matter as i wait for the sitter

to finish smothering the child. when it’s quiet

i name all the wet little rooms in my head after

dead poets. i name the burst water pipes in the walls.

i name the electricity. this is just to say, i have eaten

all the pills i’ve been prescribed & am nothing

                                                                         now. forgive me.

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