Poetry: the gods of discharge dates by Jeff Pearson

In this double hinged sonnet, Jeff Pearson balances the demands of form with the rebellious and sensitive subject of mental illlness. “the gods of discharge dates” is generous and humorous and terse and just a little sad—we all want to know the damn discharge date.


the gods of discharge dates

Coyote slurps scared water, not yet brewed coffee.
Coyote acting up, the man broken
down, crawls over to a dead pay phone
of only incoming calls. Bird silhouettes. Belief.
The only eternal salvation (cartoons, meds, and sleep).
Paranoia of wanderings, visages of quaked aspen
steal perennial swatches from barren
flower beds. Death holds the roving beasts.
In the activity yard the paper tags dissolve like acid
tabs, a cold wintergreen flavor of the dead
flowers. This is a beginning, a coyote bite,
cellulitis. Locked up by faith’s bled shapes,
a bay window elongated. Basalt cliffs.
The man asks every hour for a discharge date.


Coyote asks every hour for a discharge date.
Abandoning all secrets, bareheaded, the man wishes
for space: open sagebrush to sagebrush, the chase,
and sour drops of sweat. He must slurp drips of diet
soda bought by money from cards with Kincaid prints.
The man with an earned pedometer pisses
his bed. The man begs the pharmacist
for one more nicotine patch. Crows forget
they need to fly, squirrels spite the cold
outside of the thick two-sided window.
This darkened group room, TV-screen emptied.
All day: the snarling, tame, caged, and dosed.
Where is the dirt road to home? Abandoned,
the man stirs the crud of coffee, scared.



Jeff Pearson

Jeff Pearson is a graduate of the University of Idaho’s MFA Program and has been published by Noble / Gas Quarterly, Permafrost, Otis Nebula, a capella zooHeavy Feather ReviewShampoo, Salt Front, Axolotl, Barrelhouse, Moon City Review, and Open Minds Quarterly. He is The Managing Editor for Blood Orange Review, Poetry Editor for 5x5 Lit Mag, and an instructor at Washington State University. Tweets at @legoverleg.

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