from Index of Placebo Effects


me, too drug development

Inside every departure is a tangled roadside death. We're walking to Kansas with the shirts on our backs. You tuck your hair behind your ears, and the woman with the little dog would like to know how we've walked so far with our white shirts unblemished. Her bracelet’s tarnished. When she reaches down to pet her dog she studies your shoes, which are my shoes, too. Your restlessness shows first in your hands. We could be anywhere and you’d still feel trapped. Sometimes it’s all about leaving with you, like a laugh when nothing's funny and the others twist their mouths.



hospital window, view through

Trees shudder, thorned at the root by the rut of the river. You overlook groves looking up. Across the hall in Hospital Town, a man in a gown stares down at brick. His eyebright's plastic, posed askance in fluted glass. Ersatz pollen lures invisible bees. You'll get well faster because of what you see: criminals and geese among the restless trees. Everywhere, fever. Press your palm to disease. How we light sirens to worship the dark. Your twin eyeballs asphalt and shadows the nurse. You'll go home first, mended by fir.



nocebo effects

Ghost stories never end. The lane is long, tree-lined, unpaved. The girls come and go. The house seems to follow. A fan guards the fire, peacocked over tile. Something so lovely about this arrangement: the girls touch the banister and turn in sync to face the lens. Each girl's thinner than the one before, dresses staggered on the stair. Each girl in white, the perfect shot. Black shoes, gold rings, the nothingness of landing. People in cities are always jumping. Undrinkable water for miles along shore. Ghost stories start with a death to avoid, with a face in the moss that curtains the trees. There's a twist in the road and a twist in the river, vespertine hiss of the wrecking ball's swing. If no one believes her, she'll come back in white. No doors, no windows, just boarded-up wind.



Carol Guess is the author of six books of poetry and prose. She lives in a border town in the Pacific Northwest and keeps a blog here.