Blanket Sea

Arts & Literary Magazine

Category: Poetry (page 2 of 6)

“The Constant Hum of Elsewhere” by Jen Rouse

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.

Poetry by E. Kristin Anderson

The soft pink

She thought of that smell in the hospital
putting on her nightgown.

Conversations came up
in the mirror

                    and for a moment
she hadn’t wanted to wake.

Silence was spreading;
she drank it.


This is a found poem. Source Material: Rice, Anne. “Chapter 16.” Lasher, Mass Market ed., Ballantine, 1995, pp. 320-323.


Not to worry.

It’s not in the paper—         a year that will be filled
on weekends         putting sugar on         Rapunzel, Rapunzel.
Without a mirror,         I’d never destroy such a masterpiece;
I couldn’t care less         what they’re trying to tell us.
Free to dance,         stuck up there         in southern skyways,
make it through         on nothing but this summer.
We could be there ourselves         running late
cheek to cheek.         you’ve never explained why
all we know is what we read.         Go now.
                    Your guess is as good as mine.


This is a found poem using speech and quotations from the following sources:

Duncan, Lois. Don’t Look Behind You. New York: Bantam Doubleday Dell for Young Readers, 1990. 2-3, 5-7, 9. Print.

Duncan, Lois. Summer of Fear. 2nd ed. New York: Bantam Doubleday Dell Books for Young Readers, 1990. 14-15. Print.



E. Kristin Anderson is a poet, Starbucks connoisseur, and glitter enthusiast living in Austin, Texas. She is the editor of Come as You Are, an anthology of writing on 90s pop culture (Anomalous Press), and Hysteria: Writing the female body (Sable Books, forthcoming).  Kristin is the author of eight chapbooks of poetry including A Guide for the Practical Abductee (Red Bird Chapbooks), Pray, Pray, Pray: Poems I wrote to Prince in the middle of the night (Porkbelly Press), Fire in the Sky (Grey Book Press), We’re Doing Witchcraft (Hermeneutic Chaos Press), and 17 seventeen XVII (Grey Book Press). Kristin is an editor at Red Paint Hill and was formerly a poetry editor at Found Poetry Review. Once upon a time she worked at The New Yorker. Find her online at and on Twitter at @ek_anderson.


Poetry by Natalie E. Illum

The perspective from below

Sharks attack their prey from underneath,
sometimes at speeds of up to 35 miles an hour.

At first you think why is there
a freight train underwater? And then
the ocean leaks red and you think

The kitchen floor attacks its prey
with gravity. It snaps bone
just as easily as a mouth.
A table corner can be
razor sharp too.

If you hit the soft tissue
at the back of a skull
with 160 pounds of your own
body weight, it will gush too.

You know immediately.
You’ve endangered yourself.
Swam out too far in the middle
of your living room, without
the lifeguard of your cane.

You see red pool
on the linoleum. Oh.
Clutch skin, kick
sideways, crawl
to your cell phone
like a shoreline.

There’s no point in shouting Help!!
before your feet slip and the floor
becomes a thing capable
of drowning you.

The spectators left your beach, stopped
watching your brain fight and splash
years ago. Because the doctors insisted
that gash isn’t serious. This puncture
should heal on its own.

There’s no evil to punch
on the nose, unless you want to
beat yourself up.

No need for 600 surgical-grade
internal stitches and staples
to keep your fascia and form
intact; to create the jagged line
that keeps you

interesting. But their scars will be
fascinating and featured
in People Magazine, along with
that harrowing quote, the one

about the exact moment you thought
I’m going to die.

I fight with boring things:
concrete, granite, hardwood. I fear.
I have no flight response.

These type of attacks, they happen
to 1 in every 11.5 million people.
What are the odds that I’m my own
daily shark bite? What are the odds

that someone would believe
how terrified I am of dry land?



I was raised under stained glass. On Sundays
the parish asked the Lord to heal my legs;
to give my parents a miracle. I tried to kneel
for them. I sang glory and Hosanna the loudest.

But I knew I’d never wake up walking.
So I never asked why me or what if? God
was busy with other things.
I was just one middle class disabled girl
with decent health insurance. But

when my best friend’s all-star body
started to paralyze itself nerve by nerve,
the doctors didn’t find any answers. But they
still ran enough tests to flatline her bank account.

When she woke up unable to crawl or swallow,
she kept trying to reach you. God
all she heard back was static.
You can multiply that noise
by 8 billion people praying
for answers.

God, do their voices ring so loud
in your head that you doubt
your own divine judgment? Turned
the Holy Trinity into Psychologist,
Neurologist, Physical Therapist

so we would all feel better? Did you create drugs
like Abilify to enable us to stand up without you?
Is it easier to hand out prescription after prescription?
Prescribe to us instead of listening?
It’s no wonder

we have turned pharmacies into churches.
Pray to the insurance companies for
a whole month’s worth of Holy Eucharist.
We break pills like bread into smaller and smaller
milligrams to make them last longer. So many
of them dissolve so easily

on the tongue. We need these blessed uppers
to carry us closer to Heaven, help us swallow pain
when we fall back down. God knows

how much it hurts to drop copays
into so many collection boxes.  He sees
how we read warning labels like

the new Gospel.

Be careful not to overdose. God
only has time to lay hands
on some of us.



Natalie E. Illum is a poet, disability activist, and singer living in Washington, DC. She is a 2017 Jenny McKean Moore Poetry Fellow, as well as a non-fiction editor forThe Deaf Poets Society Literary Journal. She is a founded board member of mothertongue, a women’s open mic that lasted 15 years. She competed on the National Poetry Slam circuit and is the 2013 Beltway Grand Slam Champion. Her work has appeared in various publications and on NPR’s Snap Judgement. Natalie has an MFA from American University and teaches workshops across the country. You can find her on Instagram and Twitter as @poetryrox.

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