1. Mercer, Lianne Elizabeth MSN, RN, CPT

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They come wearing relief


and apology, dressed in ragged jeans


or wrinkled khakis. They come


wearing bewilderment and anger


dressed in black T-shirts


and faded dreams.


These young men are suspicious,


now, of everyone, including


themselves. They've tried booze


and marijuana, sex and sleep.


Nothing-not even mother,


especially not mother-can sew up


the fraying edges of their thoughts.


Something has invaded their minds.


Birds have begun to nest on ideas


in trees bare of intention. Thoughts


branch into tangled whispers,


shouts for fertilizer or bug spray.


Words change meanings, demeaning,


demanding attention.


From lives of failed perspective,


the stories fall. The young men


look inward and outward at the same time,


walk the narrow bridge medication provides


between worlds. They remind us


we cannot go home again.


We must always walk head on


into the foreign countries of our lives.