AJN, American Journal of Nursing

December 2002, Volume 102 Number 12 , p 53 - 53 [FREE]


  • Lianne Elizabeth Mercer MSN, RN, CPT


© 2002 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc. Volume 102(12)             December 2002             p 53 Exiles [FEATURES: Art of Nursing]

Mercer, Lianne Elizabeth MSN, RN, CPT

Lianne Elizabeth Mercer, a poet and certified poetry therapist, works part time as a nurse on the adult psychiatric unit at Methodist Specialty and Transplant Hospital in San Antonio, TX.

Her poetry has appeared in Between the Heartbeats: Poetry and Prose by Nurses (University of Iowa, 1995) and New Texas 2001 (University of Mary Hardin–Baylor). Mercer says, “The ‘exiles’ originally were two young men with schizophrenia I admitted one night to a psychiatric ICU. By the end of the poem, there are many possibilities for whom the title refers to.”

Art of Nursing is coordinated by Sylvia Foley, senior editor:

They come wearing relief

and apology, ...


They come wearing relief


and apology, dressed in ragged jeans


or wrinkled khakis. They come


wearing bewilderment and anger


dressed in black T-shirts


and faded dreams.


These young men are suspicious,


now, of everyone, including


themselves. They've tried booze


and marijuana, sex and sleep.


Nothing-not even mother,


especially not mother-can sew up


the fraying edges of their thoughts.


Something has invaded their minds.


Birds have begun to nest on ideas


in trees bare of intention. Thoughts


branch into tangled whispers,


shouts for fertilizer or bug spray.


Words change meanings, demeaning,


demanding attention.


From lives of failed perspective,


the stories fall. The young men


look inward and outward at the same time,


walk the narrow bridge medication provides


between worlds. They remind us


we cannot go home again.


We must always walk head on


into the foreign countries of our lives.