“For the Tenth Grade Me Reading ‘Howl’ Right Now,” Elijah Patterson

There’s nothing romantic about hospital food or gowns,
cotton worn thin by bleach and bodies before yours,
peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with too much jam
that will– for years – remind you of flying chairs,
a pretty twenty-two-year-old standing with her foot in the door
while you shit, watching you read and sleep and rock and mostly stare
a hallway of locked doors your fingers itch to open.