The last time I visited,
............you said you trapped a dead woman in your room
who told you to starve yourself to make room for God,
............so I let them give your body enough electricity
to calm it. Don't be afraid. The future is not disguised
............as sleep. It is a tango. It is a waterfall between
two countries, the river that tried to drown you.
............It is a city where men speak a language
you can fake if you must. It's the hands of children
............thieving your empty pockets. It's bicycles
with bells ringing through the streets at midnight.
You could say that Brimhall goes a simile too far to invoke this series of nightmare, similar to an old comedians adage not to do three jokes in a row on the same subject. Twice is placing a stressing emphasis on a conceit, an idea that might otherwise get lost, three times becomes a lecture; in this sense, the final analogy Brimhall deploys, the bicycle bells chiming through the streets at midnight, nearly derails the poem's half-awake surrealism. Beware the additional flourish, the needless decoration, the detail too many, especially if your writing prior to that moment was tight, concise, effective. Quite beyond the readership getting the point, one risks revealing a straining for effect.
Still, what the poet does here is admirable and there's much to be said for the decision to tell the patient's tale through the accounting of a witness who themselves can only relate the narrative scheme based on what they've seen, what they've heard, what they've been told by the patient. The narrator can only relate with the information that is at hand, the intimate details that have had time to play on the senses and resonate in larger pools of association; there is a sense of the narrator attempting to comprehend the interior life of the patient being visited, as if a key will appear if the imagination cleaves with the right set of references and provides a clarity that would other wise not be known. The tragedy of the poem, though, is that language itself , alone , cannot provide clarity, liberty, the full balance of self-actualized well being, as there are those things and issues, schizophrenia among them, that cannot be changed by linguistic wit. Metaphors only generate more metaphors, and the only thing that changes are the nature of the metaphors themselves.