Ward 9 by Vera Yuen

Creative Writing

Vera Yuen’s poem was shortlisted in the Best Single Poem category for the Disabled Poets Prize 2024.

The winners were announced on 16 March 2024, during Deptford Literature Festival, in an online event.


Ward 9 

© Vera Yuen 2024


Teach me how to ride lightning, 

not how the aftershocks make you a landlocked fish 

twitching between these periwinkle partitions, 

while your future convulses somewhere in the operating room. 

Tell me how hospitals are campuses, 

to teach our bodies to behave but not buckle. 

Tell me these checkered pajamas aren’t prison uniforms, these double-paned windows not impenetrable walls. 

The girl on Bed 9 is a wind-up bird, churning up a hurricane, strong enough to pry the nurses from their posts. 

Tell me how you’re cured, 

unafraid of all the electricity coursing through your body. 


That static is the best state to be in. 


Here is where they turn Minotaur into a boy, 

lopping off his horns, tamping his delusions with olanzapine. 

Looking past the whispering green trees, 

yesterday is a fiery mushroom cloud billowing in the distance, 

bright enough to mistake for sunrise. 

Tell me this is not how the world ends.