Ward Stories
(Column: Ward Stories)
Jack Freedman
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Greetings! Let me tell you a little bit about myself. I am a published poet, having written a book entitled Serotonin Seas in 2005. I currently work as a peer specialist with Baltic Street AEH, Inc. at South Beach Psychiatric Center. As a side project, I am putting together an anthology entitled Trails Through the Greenbelt. It should be available later this year. In this edition of Ward Stories, three poets, including myself, will be featured, all of whom are consumers from my home town of Staten Island, NY. Douglas Cala is my spiritual brother and a freshman at SUNY Purchase, where he majors in Cinema Studies and Creative Writing. He is also a partner in the production of Trails Through the Greenbelt. P. Melissa Fisher is a graduate student and editor-in-chief of the College of Staten Island political arts magazine, Third Rail. She has also been in recovery for more than 20 years. I look forward to reading your submissions and hope to see you in these pages in the future. Thank you!
Raising Cain
by Jack M. Freedman

My mind may be tamer,
But I remain able to sustain
That my refrains have no disclaimers,
And although my mind
Would like to rewind intertwined incidents of insanity,
I know that my journeys don't deter me
From remaining pacifistic in my values,
But no longer masochistic during internal battles.
I saddle up my steed
And proceed forward
As I spread more words
Into the direction of herds of disadvantaged people
Ready to be flushed by society.
We have a variety of ailments
And the details sent from doctors and MHATAS
Do nada to ensure that we
Be given the opportunity
To be free,
That we agree to plant a tree of knowledge
Into those with negative perceptions,
Thinking we have no direction.
The erection of a shrine will be
Dedicated to the ones who escaped the confines
Of locked doors and restraints.
We paint our portraits,
Displaying them in the galleries of our lives
Your ears provide the salaries and that's no jive.
We build a hive,
Housing the nectars and sugars
That reflect our goodness
Despite the imbalances
We often face
Within the vastness of space.
We no longer chase
But embrace strength of will and support.
Our unity is our chlorophyll.
Remaining recovered is a contact sport.
I pump my fist and feel the mist
Of a new wave of tolerance,
A blossoming revolution
Bearing the solution for equality
Regardless of disability
Or the stigma
Of being in a locked facility.
I deny that my supply
Of methods for survival
Will ever be confiscated.
I affirm
That I shall remain firm
And sustain
That we shall raise Cain
If we continue to face disdain.

Quiet Room
by Douglas Cala

I was there, slumped over in the corner after being hauled in by my two feet
My nails were completely scratched up as I tried desperately to claw a way out
All in my lonesome, I could feel my skin crawl as I heard their voices on the outside
High-pitched cackles and screeches of varying rhythms, the other patients thought me unfortunate
Being within my own asylum left me to deal with my innermost thoughts, waging and internal war within myself
I tried to put up a hearty fight but the authoritative presence that was the institution quelled me to a dull roar
I envisioned myself just moments ago, locked in four-point restraint as personnel dangled a syringe in front of me I could feel the sweat doing somersaults down my face and into my mouth
My nerves were electrified, it was turned to high voltage
But that was then and this is now
Until I figure out what my next move will be, I'll just sit here indian style sucking my thumb and wishing I were somewhere else
Tête-à-Tête
by P. Melissa Fisher

I found my sanity at a rummage sale,
It was there between a 45 of “Get into the Groove”
And a big red easy chair.
Seeing it among the relics I discovered
That I really wanted it back,
But it was too fucking expensive!
Dragging it to the side,
I conversed with it for a while:

“I remember you,” it said with growl
Swirling an olive around its martini.
“We shared a placenta
And learned the alphabet together.
Somewhere along the way,
You shed our ideals
And shredded our ties.
I was left behind—quivering
Stuck in the recesses of what you call
A mind.”

Clearly busted
I made no reply.
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