15 Minutes
by Scott C. Holstad

Every 15 minutes.
That's how often they came
in my locked room at night

with their flashlights
shining in my face
to make sure I was

still alive.  Nighttime
was OK.  The screams
were minimal.

The day was something
else altogether.  Like I
have been doing recently,

one of them was doing
everything possible to
cut himself up, only

he had full-blown AIDS.
Faggy Billy was always
throwing a goddamn fit

over his cigarettes, lover,
doctor, meds, neighbors,
food, and anything else
he could thing of.

Big black man across
the hall from me had to
be restrained most of the time,

shackled to a gurney.
Michele ran up and down the
hallways, naked and screaming.

I found her in my bed and
simply sat down in the
hallway, waiting.

The hallway had the look and
feel of a small forgotten
Brooklyn school, in need of

much repair, fresh paint,
fresh air, a new mood.  I
couldn't lock the door to the

bathroom.  They had to watch
me when I shaved.  (My arm
is bleeding excessively now.

The other night, I got a nice
juicy wrist vein, and that
bastard wouldn't slow -

had to apply some serious
pressure.  See, even though
I tried to hang myself there,

I generally don't have the guts,
and have to work myself up to
it.)  They had our routines down

big time.  Any variation was
cause for concern.  And they had
some BIG concerned people.

Every 15 minutes.
That's how often they came
in my locked room at night

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