Chapbook, Mercedes Killeen, 16 pgs, Grey Borders Books, greyborders.com, $4
“I want to lie with my thoughts naked,” writes Mercedes Killeen in tulips. This thought is representative of the entire collection. These poems are a frank reflection on living with “mental anguish,” as publisher Grey Borders describes it, and time spent in hospital as a result.
The opening poem, itself titled “tulips,”offers the most complexity, exploring personhood and its loss of it while in hospital without the right to check out, and the incongruous desire to return to that state after freedom is restored.
Aside from that starting point, there’s not a lot here that rises past superficial descriptions of scenes, or lists of feelings that land on the well-worn (though very real, of course) tropes of this subject: “I walk around hollow… numb. / mummified. / heavy. / still.”
Where does one go from here? What has been learned about the self? How does this experience connect a person to something larger than themselves? Exploring such questions would have built a fuller view, and added a deeper level of insight that’s notably absent.