Nina Bennett

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For What It’s Worth

Kicked out of a halfway house
for fighting after he threw away
his Haldol. Picked up on a parole
violation, he started an inmate riot,
spent time in solitary. His sister
wouldn’t let him stay in her home.
The last time he lived with her
he called her toddler Satan,
said he had to be banished
from the kingdom.

He survived on the street
for a year, in a cardboard
container under the interstate.
Found a washing machine box,
carved doors between the two,
called it his condo. Guilt
consumed his sister as the virus
devoured him. She left a down
comforter on his doorstep.

In the ER he demanded leeches
to draw out his bad blood. Told the doc
the government gave him AIDS.
Threw a chair at a social worker,
earned another involuntary psych commitment.
Released after 72 hours, he walked 40 miles
to escape accusations screamed
by demons, crossed the state line.

That was 8 months ago. The clinic
called his sister, said he never
refilled his antivirals. She says
all she wants is for her brother
to die in a bed.


Nina Bennett is the author of Forgotten Tears A Grandmother’s Journey Through Grief. Her poetry has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies including Kansas City Voices, Red Poppy Review, Houseboat, Bryant Literary Review, Yale Journal for Humanities in Medicine, The Broadkill Review, and American Society: What Poets See. Nina’s chapbook, “Sound Effects,” is forthcoming in 2013 from Broadkill Press as part of their Key Poetry Series.