Wednesday, April 27, 2022



"..Let the doctor and the lawyer do as much as they can.
Let the springtime begin, let the boy become a man.
I have wasted too much time 
just to sing you this sad song..."~James Taylor, 1971 
In the madhouse
on beds of daggers
we slept like crickets
chirping to ourselves
while they tried their best
to make us cannibals.
The nuns were worse than
lawyers, praying like accordions,
tracking their sins into our soft 
wax skulls, wheezing like roosters
when one of us cried, laying the greasy ribs
of Jesus on our plates.

They kept you behind
door number six. I'd go to you
with a stolen key, when the noon
smelled bright as carnations, 
when the nights were
more purple than the jacarandas.
You spoke of your father
dead of snakebite,
a clockwork marvel with
his million-dollar suit of skin,
and your mother
with the viper between her lips.

I remember your kiss
astringent with reason
as bitter lemons, and the way
your hair blew back from
your dog-brown eyes like poisonous
smoke from the oleanders.

I thought these things
as beautiful as angels
whispering in the dahlias
when I was lost in the asylum,
when the doctors did all they could
to see that we ate each other
down to the bone.

April 2022

 Inspired by the words of Federico Garcia Lorca,
and a dream.
Images: The Madhouse, 1812-1814 © Francisco Goya  Public Domain
Vase with Carnations, 1886, © Vincent Van Gogh    Public Domain 


  1. Hey mister, that's Joy up on the jukebox. (I loved that album.) This poem puts me in mind of another song, "Entangled" by Genesis. ("If we can help you we will, soon as you're tired and ill. With your consent we can experiment further still.")

    The emotional heaviness of this poem is as strong as the smell of disinfectant. This is not a place anyone would want to be, and yet we wake there sometimes, scrambling for any kind of comfort or way out. Those who might be expected to help and heal not only don't do that, but instead inflict further misery, and it would seem, with cruel pleasure or cold indifference. "praying like accordions" leapt out at me. Mechanical, squeezed out prayers with the cheap tone of the Saturday night polka. Worst are the doctors, turning patients into monsters. A terrifying trip to a very disturbing kind of human zoo.

    1. Thanks for reading, Shay. We all see things through our own dreams, or nightmares, as the case may be.

  2. You have painted the picture of such a place with devastating insight. The amazing thing is the comfort the two found, even in the middle of such a hell. I love "I thought these things as beautiful as angels whispering in the dahlias....." Such fine writing.

  3. Joy, I am currently in the midst of devouring Lorca's poetry .... inspiration is wonderfully obvious in your poem ~~ was the dream yours ~~ or his? This poem is a gift!!!!!

    1. The new comment bot is a killer droid, dunno where my first take at a comment went ... I'll try not to repeat myself. Asylum is nightmare and this gallops. Opposites are stretched to impossible poles that the heart has to make mutual sense of. I always loved the Spanish poets for layering waking reality with such surrealist scapes, it provides a supple shore for the dream. Your weave here is exquisite and dead on. Nuns reciting accordian prayer is tops.

    2. Yes, google/blogger does its best to do something destructive and annoying every time it "updates" things. Thanks for perservering, B. and for your feedback. The madhouse is one of those tropes I'm always going back to, it seems, especially when there are nightmares at Castle Hedgewitch.

  4. "The nuns were worse than / lawyers, praying like accordions," Oh! Oh! Oh! That is one of the best ever. And this: "your mother / with the viper between her lips" Fantastic. Love the asylum where black is white and bad is good. Terrific write!

  5. "door number six" for some reason, that image sticks to me, feels like a door to a room with no walls, feels like freedom, maybe a real door lost somewhere in the world, or maybe a door in the back of the mind we can step thru at any time. anyway, so many great lines in this, and the narrative flows so easy, i glided thru this, wonderfull to read

  6. having just read Ain's journal - how does that real horror, make this one almost preferable, with its toothy us and beautiful, deadly angels ? ~

  7. Gosh, this is dark! But I'm glad you took me there, Joy! Your metaphors are something else. You tell so much with so few words, I particularly loved:

    "we slept like crickets
    chirping to ourselves" - like the harmless sound of madness, it makes so much sense.

    "...nuns...praying like accordions" - trying to make you eat Jesus! Wow.

    "...the noon
    smelled bright as carnations"

    "...your father
    dead of snake bite"

    not least dog-brown eyes, hair like poisonous smoke. How do make damnedness sound so beautiful!?

    And of course, the doctors are the bad guys, of course they are. This is the opening scene to a film I want to see. You as the grain of hope stealing into room No. 6 with a stolen key, you with still some marbles intact. Adored this <3


"We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." ~William Butler Yeats

Comment Moderation Has Been Enabled