Sam Sax

Poems on themes of queerness, mental health, and STI stigmas. Structured around an excerpt of the DSMI (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.


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.