In group at the asylum
the first time I was recovering from delusions
we discussed the reasons for psychosis,
which the nurse-facilitator
described as “an ailment of the soul,”
eine seelische Erkrankung.
Precisely because I had found again and lost again
my belief in the soul
in the crisis that led to my hospitalization
the phrase seemed cruel in its finality,
I wanted to understand my madness
and when she explained
loss of employment as a source of illness
I knew what she said was true.
“If you think unemployment is bad here,”
a middle aged woman said in accented German,
“you should try Ukraine.”
This struck me then as both irrelevant
and utterly apropos
in a way that was very funny,
funny in a way that was dangerous to accept,
but very sad too,
sad in the way an ache reminds you that you are awake.
Brian Glaser is an assistant professor of English at Chapman University in Orange, California. He has worked as a dramaturg for The Wooden Floor, an arts intervention organization for ethnically diverse children from low-income families in his hometown of Santa Ana. He has also worked as a grant writer.