Merciful Masters

In the hospital, I met the spirits
who would overtake my mind,
the ones who’d shape my wings

out of butter, turn my blood
into cinnamon, then regale me
through the long night, make me

laugh, make me wish
I could share their sacred power.

The first night in the locked ward
I sat unclothed on the toilet,
head on my hands. The first night

I curled under a blanket, prayed
an Our Father, a Hail Mary, a Glory
Be to God
, thought of my mom,

where’s my mom? You’ll see her
in visiting hours, the spirits said.

& where are my belongings, I asked them,
where did they go? My clothes, my books,
my phone. Where did you hide them?

& the spirits my merciful masters laughed
how should we know and why should we tell you
their wings golden & alight, so unlike

the world of the sane so unlike the calm night
outside those walls, the calm me

walking in the days before
to class or to the store, without wings,
blood in my body still blood still mine.

Merciful Masters read by Nicholas Reiner

Nicholas Reiner is an American poet of Mexican heritage. His work appears in Spillway, Aquifer, Fourteen Hills, Connotation Press, and Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review. He holds degrees from Stanford University and the University of California, Irvine, where he completed an MFA. He is Director of Communications at the Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC) and lives in Los Angeles, CA with his wife and daughter. Website:

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