Back to Issue Eleven.

Havenwyck Hospital, 2002



Where day is a room named after itself,
men scrubbed the color of sunrise

revolve like planets around our wounds.
As we wake we can feel them

thumbing our scars like rosary beads,
whispering prayers to keep themselves

from falling into our skin.
In the quiet room, silence enters

the thigh via needle and prayer
is listening to what the body says

after it’s tranked out of its native language.
The records will say I was once

a nest of maladies under the tongue
of a man whose mouth was his name

who siphoned five minutes
from each sunrise, that I was a chart

of scrips and milligrams in an alchemy
meant to yield a version of me

that could fly from that nest.
Tonight, I’ll sleep in a linen closet

in the arms of a girl who, for a few hours,
cures my crazy with hers.  Tomorrow,

memory will be a palm full of clouds
tipped from an orange bottle.

I’ll swish it down my throat with a dixie
cup of water.  I’ll lift my tongue

to reveal I didn’t forget, then forget.


Benjamin Goldberg lives with his wife outside Washington, D.C. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Ninth Letter, The Greensboro Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Salt Hill, The Southeast Review, Devil’s Lake, and elsewhere. He was a finalist for the 2012 Gearhart Poetry Prize, the 2013 New Millennium Writings Award for Poetry, and the 2013 Third Coast Poetry Prize. He is currently earning his MFA at Johns Hopkins University. Find him online at