At Western Psych

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On the dayroom TV screen, the Gladiator
hallucinates in the desert. Golden lions and
ghost horses scream. Filmed light flickers
like tears on drugged un/​watchful faces.
Everyone is shoeless, their socks dark green.

The water fountain is bandaged in a towel,
leaking like a bad burn. The inmates
queue to drink the dribble, scolded
by a pony-​tailed guardian with a clipboard:
People! People, I said wait your turn.

At a café table, a girl with a purple bob
murmurs to an official guest: Don’t tell
anybody where I am. I need to keep
my job.
Impassive as his calfskin briefcase,
the neck-​tied visitor makes a note, nods.

A woman in a sweater draped like a cowl
turns away. Her limp sleeves spasm
as she covers the whiteboard in blue:
I know one thing. And it’s true. i know


Pittsburgh Quarterly is now accepting submissions for its online poetry feature. PQ Poem is seeking poetry from local, national and international poets that highlight a strong voice and good use of imagery, among other criteria. To have your work featured, send up to three previously unpublished poems in Word or PDF format as well as a brief bio to . Simultaneous submissions are accepted, but if work is accepted elsewhere, please alert us.


Angele Ellis

Angele Ellis’s latest book is “Under the Kaufmann’s Clock” (Six Gallery Press), a hybrid valentine to her adopted city, with photos by Rebecca Clever. She also is author of “Spared” (A Main Street Rag Editors’ Choice Chapbook), and “Arab on Radar” (Six Gallery), whose poems won her a fellowship from the PA Council on the Arts.

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