In the Land of Pain

                      (cf. Antoine Daudet)
I was unwell so my doctors gave me poison
many cultures have this tradition
many cultures revere their sick
revile or revere the illness revere
the sickened as holy for carrying a disruption
of such burden
as a doctor can only add to for containing
a demon or humor or wind or abstraction or whatever
beats against the inner boughs of life
with such power
as to undo a man back to only the frame of his being
clay breathing     in order
to spare the healthy confusion
give me your poison weaken me
that this illness which
as winter’s wind fills winter’s clean
branches fills me
may be weakened weaker than voice
what is a voice
what is a voice
O god of indeterminate origin
wearing me like a skin
rooted into me past poison or prayer
what is a voice

Stuart Greenhouse the author of the chapbook "What Remains" (Poetry Society of America), and the recipient of a 2014 fellowship from the New Jersey State Council of the Arts. Poems have most recently appeared or are forthcoming in Denver Quarterly, Laurel Review, and North American Review.