A Psych Ward Is a Place
It has a lobby, a large Christmas tree. Someone picked
the lounge furniture, its warm southwestern pattern.
Past the double doors, everyone has a bed,
fifteen uninterrupted minutes of privacy, a shower
to scream in. No one screams outside of a place.
Tile isn’t selfish with the sound it catches.
Someone with fingers and thumbs glued it down.
On their first night, a Patient is handed
a large turkey and cheddar sandwich. The Nurse,
a man in scrubs and copper cuffs, asks
the Patient many questions, types their answers
into a monitor. The Patient takes their first hungry bite
in six days. When their mouth fills with varied textures,
they relax into grief. Many people hammered up beams
so that when a Patient weeps they weep in a room.
The Nurse comforts them, says it’s always like this
the first night. The Patient hears howling
from a bathroom. Joins it.
K. Iver reads “A Psych Ward Is a Place”
K. Iver is a nonbinary trans poet from Mississippi. Their book Short Film Starring My Beloved’s Red Bronco won the 2022 Ballard Spahr Prize for Poetry from Milkweed Editions. Their poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Boston Review, Gulf Coast, Kenyon Review, Poetry Northwest, TriQuarterly, The Adroit Journal, and elsewhere. Iver is the 2021-2022 Ronald Wallace Fellow for Poetry at the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing. They have a Ph.D. in Poetry from Florida State University. For more, visit kleeiver.com.