Mental Health, Inc.

by Doug Minkler

Specializing in yoga, hiking, meditation
and coerced chemical lobotomies
(psychotropic drug regimens)
Our compassionate medical doctors
will grant you a label
and, in so doing, deem you disabled
Your pills won’t cost a cent
and we will help with your rent
Unfortunately you will get a little burly
and die 25 years early
Sorry, no more dreams
too bad about your self esteem.
Take the whites, the blues and the reds
they are all required meds.
Adherence means a check
what the heck
you get off the street
and something to eat.
It’s a package deal —
you get the pills
taxpayers get the bills and
the drug companies make two killings.
Health Warning: Psychiatric medications damage brains, wreck bodies and are addictive. Drug companies make exorbitant profits, but take no responsibility for the diabetes, massive weight gain, sugar-induced comas, sexual dysfunction, uncontrollable facial tics, personality loss, depression, heart attacks, strokes and suicide that their drugs cause. If you lose your prescription, you can go to any pharmacy, hospital or mental health center.  You will receive assistance immediately. If you want to stop taking these drugs because they are not helping you or the side effects are too debilitating, be aware that sudden withdrawal can cause dangerous side effects, including death. You must have the close supervision of a caring, competent physician as you slowly withdraw from them. Good luck finding one.

habeas corporate

by Randy Fingland

exxon’s face
is exxon’s logo
etched into customer brains
like the hides of range steers
en route to Kansas City
not a real person
but a knock-off nonbeing
backed with a buff body of paperwork
who has the rights
same as a walking breather
with a ruddy-flushed face
to answer to the music
when it reaches the ear
fact is if an actual live being
perpetrated the same crimes
against innocent residents
of the wilderness
against trusting consumers who stalk
the malls confident of a safe buy
against parents who innately sense
not to give their kids toxic toys
against drivers who say no to cars with
rear-ender fire-prone gas tanks,
or against homeowners in hills
full of mudslide probabilities,
by suppressing reports of the hazards
well the thirty-something adult next to you
if responsible
would be in jail or dead
from shame or revenge in some countries
odd that mother nature’s
more of a fleshed-out person
in most peoples’ minds
than a soulless oil company
but she never gets represented
at court
like exxon


by Joan Clair

In the bookstore’s bathroom,
a woman has just washed herself
and stoops down to get her possessions
enclosed in plastic garbage bags.
I don’t look at her directly,
but what I see is an aura of beauty
emanating from her face.
And the question is, “Why?”
How can the radiant sun
be enclosed in a lotus of clouds?

“Keep This Homeless Man Moving”

by George Wynn

“Them cops and security guards
with faces staring at me
like clenched fists might
as well scream their mantra:
“Keep this homeless man moving”
That’s what it said on page one in the
journal I picked up off the ground a
young man had dropped fleeing the
authorities down Market Street
The last page read:
“Shove your pretense
cable car land
you can hate
my yellow teeth
seeing is believing
just give me something to eat”
The last paragraph read:
“Some day the authorities
who are protecting the
haves from the have nots
are gonna run this
struggling man straight
out of town”

Lone Survivor

by George Wynn

To pass the time until he falls
asleep in a Chinatown alley
near the Ping Yuen housing
project of his childhood
he writes a poem in his head
of a live grenade and the
men long ago dead
He gives the poem shape
and texture until it’s
almost tangible and burns
and bites like his wounds did
but he doesn’t know if
the writing will help
It’s the seventh anniversary
of his single mother’s sudden
death of a coronary a week
before he (an only child) got
back from Iraq
He folds his hands to remember
offers a Buddhist prayer
for his mother’s soul
then feels weary
even a tremor
and rubs his eyes doubting
if he will ever be whole

Artwork by Doug Minkler Drug companies are in a rush to market their super profitable, addictive and dangerous psych-meds to children.


oh the men behind the guns

[typography font=”Crimson Text” size=”18″ size_format=”px”]— for Phil Ochs[/typography]

by Randy Fingland

history begins with accounts
of justified actions
as armed force evolved
to include bigger wider
death swaths
a sling shot
a cannon’s “whiff of grapeshot”
the shock zone
a hydrogen bomb extends to
the coordinates a drone
exacts with each
concentrated fire-power missile
to operate
these weapons require a thumb
& a brain under the control
of another’s mind

license to smoke

by Randy Fingland

imperialism begins
in the will to take
over someone’s life
through the short
term (nicotine
& very long
term (conquistador
a motivation
to cross into territory
that’s vulnerable
to the profiteers
who finance these
oft fatal incursions


by Joan Clair

Bundled, her face red with cold,
she stands by her shopping cart,
full of neat folds of blankets and clothes
and beams rays of gratitude
as if I gave her a fortune,
instead of three quarters.
Is God this grateful when we give up
a tiny bit of selfishness,
keeping so much more than giving?
Could our creator be this humble?

Vets in Court

by George Wynn

A grizzled man
thin as a branch
missing two fingers
of his right hand
finds his seat next
to me on the 21 Hayes bus.
“Just came from court,”
he says, “Caught me riding
the trains without paying
and sleeping in the MUNI Station.”
“Bad luck,” I say.
He grins. “Judge says, ‘You did
wrong. I gotta punish you.’
“Why judge, the night is long
just trying to keep warm.”
“You want me to reward you?”
“No judge, just give me a break.”
“What happened to the hand?”
“Me too,” says the judge.
“How you doing otherwise
besides your court problem?”
“The bad dreams come in waves.”
The judge squeezes his eyes, as if he
“When it’s a wet and cold night, judge,
I fret. Feel like a soaked pigeon.”
“I bet,” says the judge, shaking
his head. “Case dismissed!”
“Thank you judge.”
“Stay out of the underground!”
“Will do, judge.”
“But keep warm … somehow,” says
the judge, “and God bless you!”
The man slaps me on the back,
getting off the 21 at St. Mary’s.
“So long. Gotta see my
friend Mac, like a son to me,
caught pneumonia on the street.”