Tohm Bakelas

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Marty’s Scissors

Marty took a pair of scissors and
stabbed himself in the right temple
and after they stitched him back up
and made sure all the parts
in his head still worked
he consented to voluntary treatment

it was the first time I ever met him

I asked him, “why’d you do it man?”
he said, “it’s all right now”
and then asked for mouthwash

the next day when I was making rounds
I counted 14 empty bottles
next to Marty’s bed
I had to explain to him that
the mouthwash
didn’t have alcohol in it
Marty laughed and kept laughing
he was discharged the following day
apparently, this was just something he did

the next time I saw Marty
we joked about the scissors
and his head looked much better


Tohm Bakelas is a New Jersey social worker in a state psychiatric hospital. His poems have appeared all over the world and he’s published eleven books of poetry. His work has been nominated several times for the Pushcart Prize. He is also the editor of Between Shadows Press.