The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


Mark Ramirez

Minor Days in Purgatory

Toledo, Ohio


Sleep comes in sweat

shivers, delirium shakes,

the bloodshot throb

of salt-swollen eyes.

Panel light pricks

through locked doors

until dawn breaks

on window’s iron lattice.

Nurses cart room

to room for blood and pills

and pressure and every

evening you gown back

to bed, turn tight

in weightless sheets

and soak in the heating unit’s

dead static, its hum so stale

the night is like a taste

of the body’s final purgatory

when after life

matter persists, mindless

and the unthinking whirr

of electrons rings

under the dirt forever.

Morning grinds to life

with a hand drill

sinking screws

into hallway light,

the repair man’s stare


his work boots heavy

against the tile’s

fluorescent face.




MARK RAMIREZ is from Northwest Ohio. During his younger years he spent some time in a psychiatric care facility, the experience of which this poem is based on. He is currently an MFA student at the University of Alabama.



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