II. Vision

Sit down
Sit up
Breathe in
Breathe out

Inside you will find heaven and hell
Abide, in stillness e’er you dwell
Inside
Down inside

Sit down
Sit up
Breathe in
Breathe out

Who are you where have you been
What are you what have you seen
Inside
Deep inside

The shepherds and goatherds
Empty temples vacant words
Then it drops
And it stops
It rises
It all falls
It all drops
It all stops
It rises
And it falls

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I. Reflection/Introduction

Do you walk now in dreams girl?
Daughter of the desert
Separate from the mundane world
Visions call
You back into the light.

Sandals soft upon the sand
Treading now the path
Silence serves to liberate
Deafening!
The calm before the wrath

It’s the lonely way now
Written on you somehow
We’ve chosen you now
And you can’t get out

You have clarified
Your intention
Unrepentant
Transcendent
You have clarified
Intention

You will try to save them all
Like you’re screaming at a wall
But you can’t
You will try to sing your song
While the many hum along
’Til you’re stopped
’Til you stop

This reflection on reality
Reeks of your integrity
Won’t you stop?
Maybe not
Surely not

Prison as Psychiatric Hospital

Alisa Roth, longtime journalist for National Public Radio, has recently published a book that looks at America’s treatment of the mentally ill as criminals, locking as many as 500,000 sick Americans in federal, state and local prisons. Entitled “Insane,” Ms. Roth’s book is a startling expose of what has long been known by officials yet has not “trickled down” (to use a favored phrase of the US president who did much to bring us to this pretty pass) to the consciousness of the general public.

Roth details the horrors that mentally ill persons are subjected to in the hellish landscape of American prisons at the hands of (primarily) guards and other inmates. She presents several poignant stories in detail, and the book is certainly a welcome critique of the de facto US policy of warehousing the mentally ill in prisons poorly equipped to deal with them while they await beds in psych hospitals that are simply not available.

A recent conversation with the Chaplain at a county prison in Pennsylvania revealed that scores of mentally ill prisoners are lingering in the jail awaiting psychiatric evaluations or court ordered psychiatric treatment. “Most,” he told me, “wait well over a year.” There are two “mental health overflow” units in this particular prison, in addition to the unit designated to house these prisoners. Conditions at county prisons from Philadelphia to Central Pennsylvania have been found by your reporter to exacerbate the suffering of the severely mentally ill while psychiatric treatment is cursory or non-existent.

Beyond the obvious fact that prison conditions only serve to aggravate mental health problems, citizens ought to be aware of the costs of housing the mentally ill in prisons. The term “warehousing” is appropriate. These prisoners receiving little or no treatment at costs higher than those at the few remaining psychiatric hospitals. Alisa Roth opines that as many as half of all prisoners are mentally ill. The financial, public safety and humanitarian implications of that are staggering.

Where Roth’s book fails, in our view, is the almost sycophantic degree of sympathy shown to prison guards. Legal, documentary and anecdotal evidence combine to make a very convincing case that prison guards are overwhelmingly sadistic misanthropes; not poorly trained soldiers on the front lines of America’s struggle to solve the mental health problems, largely created by a fragmented, twisted society, as Roth would have us believe. Of course, National Public Radio is right at the heart of the system that institutionalizes horror so one mustn’t expect too much from one of its journalists.

Underclass

Garbage rising – shit-stained lives
broken bottles, de-socialize
Infestation, blood and grime
Vermin trail, they crawl behind

Dead eyes, much despised
Underclass – euthanize!
Fortresses, suburban flight
Exacerbate the culture blight

Are they ready to fight the herd mentality?
Misanthropic. Allied reality
Empty buildings,
Crumbling schools
Streets run red,
Red white and blue

Revise, mechanize
Fumigate, genocide!
Refugees of urban plight
Hunted creatures of the night

One year

The rains would come to sting and bite
Grayscale days and purple nights
Moldy morning stomach turns
Cold creeping through cigarette burns
Mad monologues and worn-out soles
Bruised all ‘round the puncpture holes
And just before I shuts the door
She’s telling me forevermore

Of azure violet royal blue
The winter breaks in splendid hues
The new rain cool and crisp and fresh
Delights upon the dirty flesh
The sweet cliches of lovers’ spring
And promises the new sun brings
While stretching dreams fill shrinking nights
The dew-washed hope greets dawning light

Shadows flee the fiery star
Another rain, the winter scars
Are little more than memory
She holds so tight it’s searing me
And naked save a sweaty smile
Laughing fucking burning wild
Now fantasies and sun-drenched eyes
Fade a bit as summer dies

The nimbus clouds – they never lie
Nor stray and never far behind
Crimson amber, golden colors
Bring late rain a little colder
Sunshine isn’t here as much
She doesn’t come around enough
How quickly hopeful seasons fade!
And leave me nothing in but the rain

Religion

Goddess of my unfathomable world!
Enigma! Hear my solemn prayer for I
have loved you forever and only you
Your shadow and the darkness of your steps
My black heart stuck gazing upon the depth
Of deepest mysteries behind your smile
And riddles of ages within your eyes.

Upon the altar of your secrets, I
Surrender my life, sacred sacrifice
Worship on my knees ancient archetype
And drink of your nectar in divine rite.

Find my religion in your holy bed
Take my communion when you turn your head
Look back to me and hear my confession
Absolve me; sanctify my obsession