General Poetry posted August 1, 2022

This work has reached the exceptional level
In honor of an anonymous cousin

Love Notes from the Madhouse

by Theodore McDowell

I miss our youth.
I wrapped your flat-chested awkwardness
in the glory of my letter jacket.
Love meant the taste of stolen Marlboros
and Dad’s whiskey and rye on our lips.

Worn and weary without you.

The weight of the day rests on my back,
my cross dragged to Golgotha.
I miss the jostle and jar
of our pickup truck, singing
along to the heartache
of a country song.

Images with faded auras.

The doctors string together
days with Zoloft,
worn out beads on Mom’s rosary.
I miss nights in the backseat,
enchanted by moon-glow
in the rearview mirror,
a plastic Jesus bobbling
on the dashboard.

Where is God in this monsoon of madness?

Now, I gaze at an indigo sunset
like a mystic who has lost his faith.
Dusk closes over light quiet as a coffin lid.
I miss the goodbye kiss before the war,
red lipstick lingered on my lips.

Blood from a last fatal wound.

Now strands of barbed wire
circle your heart. You’re protected
in sandbagged bunkers
from the violence in my eyes.
A timeless dream at daybreak
before the wool blanket
felt like sackcloth:
you bloomed in bed like blue morning glory.

Forgetting you were gone.

You were the most beautiful song
in God’s throat.
This afternoon, the rains came
like monsoons in Nam,
left me bone-soaked on the path
outside this concrete madhouse.

Faces buried underneath my eyelids.

Raindrops bent elephant grass,
pelted bodies of friends
in muddy fields somewhere
in the Mekong Delta.




In honor of a cousin who served in Viet Nam and has mental health issues.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

Artwork by seshadri_sreenivasan at

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