You should busy me. Make sure I have something to do
with my hands.  Give me manicured
lawns and lovely buildings,
all of these combined provide
“a special apparatus for
the care of lunacy.” i

In case you were wondering, I have never
been admitted.  Never quite the right fit
for here or there.  Even my doctors
are uncertain:  Swallow the blue pill
or don’t.  Call me
but I won’t answer.  I will keep you
and then throw you away.
Against that wall, throw yourself
against that wall. It’s not so hard
when you just try to focus
on the good things.

I like flamingo croquet
and painting tea cups.  I am not
a very good listener, distracted,
as I am, by the constant hum
of elsewhere.


Psychiatric Services.  “The Kirkbride Plan: Architecture for a Treatment System That Changed.” 27(7), 1976.



Jen Rouse’s poems have appeared in Poetry, The Inflectionist Review, Midwestern Gothic, the CDC Poetry Project, Sinister Wisdom, Anti-Heroin Chic, Crab Fat Magazine, Up the Staircase, and elsewhere. She was named a finalist for the Mississippi Review 2018 Prize Issue and was the winner of the 2017 Gulf Stream Summer Contest Issue. Rouse’s chapbook, Acid and Tender, was published in 2016 by Headmistress Press. Find her at and on Twitter @jrouse.