By Christine No

When Jim lost his mind
he drove to the Redwoods
seeking answers

When Lisa broke her own heart
she too, headed north
and laid down
to sleep.

Dave left Wyoming because the sky was too big
to hold smashed up
around him. There was nobody there.

Now he sits at home in Berkeley
Listening to traffic
He says he plays piano But I don’t believe him.

880 to 980 to 24, bear
right off
on MLK right
on Dwight and
Milvia, there.

You could only access the fourth floor
by exiting on the third
and waiting for the special lift

We hovered in the hall
to see who would come out
of which door –

Looking for something of ourselves
in them. Wondering if we could spot
one of our own

The way we arrived: buckled,
kicking, asleep and dreaming
failures all, like us

Katie knew the color codes:
Gray for restraint
Blue for a sprinter

They put Charlie on an MAOI which meant he
had to give up gluten
no soy sauce, or bread–

So be it.

We’d give up anything
for answers

We would.

Remeron made Angela sleepy
Dan lost 10lbs on Wellbutrin
Lexapro calmed the waves of terror
Risperidal made the humming stop.

We spoke in hush tones
in the cafeteria, ignored those
who kept a wide berth

Averted their eyes when
Carina stole plastic dinnerware
The holiday kind

When things don’t make sense
The company of others like you
Might be enough to keep going
It might—

One day Charlie didn’t come back
and they wouldn’t tell us where—

I stalked up and down the hall
looking for clues
I found a cigarette butt that I swear was his
It just felt that way.

I dreamt that night
about Charlie and the elevator and
Jim at home, thinking about the Redwoods

Trees older than the fourth floor

It was enough to make me

Want a different way, a different road
than the one I took—
Look where it got me.
If you are confused as I am
Don’t head north. You’ll end up

I wanted to ask Jim
if it exists at all,

I mean—

Where I am told
The pines grow tall
Where I am told
The pines have answers

img_4669Christine No is a writer and filmmaker whose work has appeared at the Sundance Film Festival, in publications such as: sPARKLE+bLINK, Columbia Journal, APOGEE, Atlas and Alice, and the anthology If You Can Hear This: Poems in Protest of an American Inauguration by Sibling Rivalry Press. She is an active participant in the Bay Area literary community as the host of Nomadic Press’s monthly reading series GET LIT, and as a board member and curator with Quiet Lightning. She is a VONA Alum, a Pushcart Prize Nominee and the First Place Poetry Winner the 2016 Litquake Writing Contest. She lives in Oakland with her dog talking dog, Brandy.

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