Notes to the Mental Hospital Timekeeper
by Tim Mayo
Kelsay Books


"I am the tooth fairy, come to collect the ivory loss
of the unloved, the impressions they make. Ooh,
what shall I leave under their pillows tonight?"

This chapbook of 16 poems is easily read. To study the pieces, though, one needs to dive headfirst into such wisdom to understand what it is like for people with mental illnesses and what it is like for those who work with them. From the basics of a card game to that of a psychotic universe and the elephant in the room, we are given a broad expanse into the collective unconscious. Other topics include abuse and neglect, death and dying, the examination of the employee, and the author’s interpretation of what it is to be mentally ill. At times, the work is so variable that it is hard to distinguish between mental health worker and client. After all, aren’t we all "mentally ill" at some point?

The author has shown his depth of insight into the world, including the world of the mentally ill. With a compassionate voice and a true understanding of those who suffer—including his own suffering and those who come through such pain—Mayo reveals the relationship with self and with others. He exposes the harsh underbelly of disturbance, neglect, abuse, horrors, losses, love, and hate. He does so while accepting the lives of all others in all of their glory and traumas. He accepts them in their pasts and present with hope for the future—a hope often extinguished in a world gone mad. The poet’s collection is a sad but enlightening composite of poems that will aid the reader in compassion and wisdom. For mental health workers, it is a validation of the sorrow they both see and experience.

A 2020 Eric Hoffer Book Award Chapbook Category Honorable Mention

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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