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Contents Page: July 1, 2011, vol 7 no 2

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Jerry Gill


Ward 93

The mental patient stands at a rusty barred window of her ward (#93 in Building 84) gazing out at the building opposite hers (#86). She's 39 years old. She's been in this place for 19 years. Her name is Mary D. She looks fixedly through the barred window at the old, rust-red brick building but doesn't see it. She sees the child she had when she was 20 years old. Where is her little boy now?

children playing kickball
in warm drizzle

When her boy–she named him "Sammy"–was a year old, she had a severe breakdown after her husband abandoned her and their child. She ended up in this mammoth place. They labeled her "Schizophrenic." The majority of the 17,000 patients in this Institution are labeled "Schizophrenic." They all take drugs for "Schizophrenia." All of the windows in all of the buildings are barred and all of the doors of all of the wards are kept locked. The employees carry a big key to unlock the door when they enter and to lock it behind them when they step inside. They look over their shoulders when they re-lock the door. They never turn their backs to the patients. These people are "Schizophrenics," after all.

what are their thoughts
the mental patients
locked up as spring begins

Ten thousand miles away, at this very moment, a B-2 Spirit (Stealth) Bomber drops a 1,000 pound bomb over a war zone from 3,000 feet up. The day is overcast. The bomb explodes 50 yards from the school where "enemy" children are eating lunch. Thirty-seven children are blown to smithereens. The incident is labeled "A Regrettable Mistake." The children are labeled "Collateral Damage." We're at war, aren't we? The enemy is bad! Our cause is right! Mistakes were made.

Mary D. and the other 16,999 patients in the gargantuan Institution are ignorant of this. Each lives only in his or her own little world, just as you and I do.

Mary gazes through the rusty barred window of Building 84, Ward 93, at the rusty barred windows of Building 86 across the yard. She's thinking of her son. What are the stupidity, misery, and insanity of war to her?

dogwoods blooming
as fighter bombers
criss-cross the sky


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