the emergency room :: allison eir jenks

Independence Day

Even in a room crammed with agony, we’re suspicious
when the doctor escorts the well-dressed man first,

or the blonde with a nosebleed and cocaine on her collar.
We’re sick of loathing, of watching each other read

about wealth and weight loss, fed up with the hooker
who keeps telling us to feel her hollow leg,

and the schizophrenic who’d plucked
every hair on his body, and counts peanuts

and sunflower seeds, then plants them outside.
Outside, a nurse smokes, bragging of her firm thighs,

and the cop adjusts his balls when he asks her questions.
Someone turns up the volume—the war letters of dignitaries.

The newscaster’s combustible lips pop open.
She makes the former president cry for the public.

But we can’t stop thinking about bee stings and flesh
wounds, the veins on the doctor’s sanitary hands,

hearts in jars and color-coded diagrams of the body.
When the bone-faced man who tried to blow

his head off is lugged in, pleading for us to shoot him,
we almost lose interest in our own afflictions.

The doctors can’t find the skin to sew his face back on.
Fuck God, his voice vibrates like a transmitter.

And we flicker off into the secret sea that fills
our bodies with loneliness—a darkness

never touched by moonlight or a shark’s eyes,
while new patients leave shoeprints in his blood.