From Visiting Day on the Psychiatric Ward by Alan Catlin

Revisiting Day on the Psychiatric Ward

Nursing station to nowhere,
rubble strewn, stripped-of-
asbestos pipes, dropped ceilings,
holes punched by jackhammers,
pick ax, crampons poked in
the walls of hell, peeling paint,
filmy as onion skin, patient
evaluations, ghost charts yellowed
by seepage, urine, unidentified
falling objects, clots of paper,
graphs, rolled-into-bundles sheets,
inmate blouses and pants;
on the wall beneath the front desk,
painted in blood, two words:


Pilgrim State Hospital Current Status: Abandoned

Snow dust on the broken
branches, the overgrown side
walks, on twin evergreen,
pine barren shrubs by entrance,
first floors of abandoned Medical
Arts Center set back on the wild,
white, matted lawn; the empty,
punched out windows, bent bars
silent as memory’s repressed scream.



“The former passenger station where every Sunday the LIRR
would deliver visitors from the city.”

Rails long ago removed for scrap,
last vestiges of connective ties
rotting amid general debris, weeds,
covered platforms: a way station
at this point of no destination.
Broken steps leading down to
nopath, a portal to underworlds,
vast tunnels, long hallways dark as
natural caves, damp as hell and twice
as musty, as if living creatures had
shit in here, curled up and died leaving
behind scents that can never be removed.
Scuttling feet amid the garbage and
corpse flowers are the spirits of human
rats trying to escape; no subway, no token
made by man, no ticket purchased on
this truncated line will ever restore
what was taken away.

Alan Catlin has been publishing for five decades. His chapbook, Visiting Day on the Psychiatric Ward was first runner up in the Looking Glass Chapbook Contest and was published by Pudding House Publications. His most recent full length book is Books of the Dead: a memoir with poetry.



Back to Issue #15


One thought on “From Visiting Day on the Psychiatric Ward by Alan Catlin

  1. WeaverGrace

    Hooray for the status of the Pilgrim State Hospital! I like how you emphasize:


    evergreen/ pine barren shrubs

    punched out windows, bent bars
    silent as memory’s repressed scream

    — a great celebration of the mental health movement!

    May the Spur station rot and decay (like the “Nursing station to nowhere” at the “Pilgrim State Hospital”) and continue to regenerate into a place of healing. After all, some of the best plant food is human waste.


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