An Overnight Crisis Worker at Quitting Time

No spring in sight.  The wounded morning sheds
Dark, clotted clouds across a winter sky.
Another shift wraps up.  I helped a man
Who’d sealed himself inside a plastic sofa
Bag then sprayed himself with golden paint —
The fumes would kill him, but he’d leave behind
A scintillating corpse.  Ambivalence
Won out for him, but not for this year’s spring.
A slight detour — I stop for steak and eggs
As served at what we locals call the “Salt
Palace,” a restaurant hungry for a sign
Announcing, “Cardiologist on Duty.”
I love the grease.  It helps build friction in
My veins as blood cells schuss along the layered
Walls, keeps me warm until the bus arrives.
A man sits down across from me, talks on
Addressing no one, rocking on his haunches.
About the time he sees the worker badge
Around my neck, I see the wristband reading,
“Emergency Psychiatric,” where he spent
Last night.  The flesh around his eyes contracts
And twitches wildly.  “God will damn the sinners
To Hell,” he says.  “But not the two of us,”
I answer.  He slowly smiles, sits back, and falls
Asleep.  The ride continues on toward home.

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