Saturday Night Mania

It’s Saturday night in the psych ward,
half past witching hour,
lights switched off to phantom black.
The psych ward becomes a cityscape,
a night skyline in a sterile hospital.
When I turn the power on,
the corridors brighten, a maze of neon signs,
electric pink and green blazing.
The walls pulse fuchsia and orange.

I hit the town in my new lavender straightjacket,
dance cheek to cheek
with an angel named Maribel
on the banks of a glistening black river.
We find the ring of keys on a hook
by the medication station
glinting silver and bronze
against plastic cylinders
of Xanax and Anafranil.
Laughing, we knock back
a few Adderall pills
with bottles of rum,
race through the halls unlocking doors.

One by one, the patients flee.
They pull sheets from narrow beds,
construct tent cities out of checkered blankets.
The loudspeakers blare
guitar solos.
Crowds of inmates sing along,
lyrics mangled,
alive in kaleidoscope patterns,
unruly, manic, chaotic.
Pills pass from hand to hand,
gulped down, crushed, snorted.
Someone lights a bonfire
on a heap of paper evaluations
and VHS tapes.
Dark plastic and film strips
curl into cinders

We celebrate like the decade is ending,
shred patient files into confetti.
By the time morning comes,
this place will be a wreckage
of singed furniture
and burned-out isolation rooms.

Nothing matters.
Not an overturned chair
or full cart of empty orange bottles matters
in this penitentiary
of locked doors and iron-barred windows.
We feed the bonfire,
alert on prescription highs,
awash in cacophonies of sound and color.


Debbie Haddow is a student at the Institute of American Indian Arts.

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