Tohm Bakelas: “the nonhuman from polaris”

the nonhuman from polaris

he was deemed no longer a danger 
to himself, others and property,
and therefore he was eligible for discharge

i referred him for group home placement 
and prepped him on all the things
he should and shouldn’t say

he placed his hand over mine
and said “tohm i love ya”

during his intake meeting he said 
“i don’t need no group home, i’m 
going to israel to be crucified… you 
see, i’m not human, i’m from polaris”

they looked at me, 
then he looked at me,
i put my hand on his shoulder
and said “i understand”

“what do you do for fun?” they asked

“hang myself” he said and laughed

“umm, what?” they asked

“that’s a joke,” he said, “i think...”

after the meeting we took our time
walking back to the ward

“tohm i think that went well” he told me

“yeah, we’ll see what they say” i said

i let him inside the ward 
and waited until the door locked

after that i went for a short walk 
and stared outside a window for a while

About the Author: Tohm Bakelas is a social worker in a psychiatric hospital. He was born in New Jersey, resides there, and will die there. His poems have appeared in numerous journals, zines, and online publications. He has published 18 chapbooks and 2 collections of poetry. His forthcoming collection “The Ants Crawl In Circles” will be published by Whiskey City Press in Summer 2022. He runs Between Shadows Press. 

Image Credit: Edvard Munch “Melancholy III” (1915–1917). Public domain image courtesy of Artvee

Tohm Bakelas: “the end is near”

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the end is near

she maintained communication
by way of phone
sometimes she would write letters,
but she was best at the phone.
there were times she’d stop calling
and it seemed as if she disappeared,
but she never did
she was always there.
and then one day all the letters
and all the calls stopped,
everything stopped.
all her bills were paid through the next month,
she was always good at that
always ahead of the game
she never gave anyone a reason to
come looking for her,
but when the letters and the calls stopped
that’s when they went looking for her.
when they got to her house
the grass looked like a jungle
the mailbox was stuffed full of letters
all the curtains were pulled closed
and the front door was locked
but they found the key
inside a rusted out bucket.
when they went inside
they turned on the lights
the electricity worked
and the house was mostly clean
there were unopened medication bottles
neatly lined on kitchen countertops
the bills organized and stacked
checks undelivered addressed and signed
the calendar was stuck on last month
and the phone was off the hook.
when they reached the living room
that’s where they found her
sitting in her favorite rocking chair
facing a broken glass tv screen
containing four words written in dust:
“the end is near”

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About the Author: Tohm Bakelas is a social worker in a psychiatric hospital. He was born in New Jersey, resides there, and will die there. His poems have appeared in numerous journals, zines, and online publications. He has published 13 chapbooks. He runs Between Shadows Press.

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Image Credit: The Library of Congress: ” Historic American Buildings Survey, Stanley P. Mixon, Photographer, March 28, 1940 INTERIOR DETAIL, MIDDLE ROOM, MANTEL AND DOORS, WEST SIDE, FIRST FLOOR, OLD HOUSE. – Samuel Phillips House, Tower Hill Road (U.S. Route 1), Belleville, Washington County, RI”