The Hospital

       Mental hospitals as they were called back then were lonely, desperate places for both the ‘patients’ and the staff. In Massachusetts at least, they tended to be red brick buildings, with an almost World War II military feeling about them. But, then they were closed, (except for the hospitals for the criminally insane), to allow the former so-called inmates/patients to experience life on their own, out in the real world. Some would survive, some would actually thrive, while others…. Well this is the story of the period leading up to that day of reckoning.

There but for the Grace of God,



The Hospital

 The halls were stark,

the walls pure white,

the floors, buffed to a sheen.

But, only through,

those windows, barred,

could color, e’er be seen.


The uniforms starched,

and donned by staff,

added only, to the pale.

Their demeanors, harsh,

from lives mundane,

eased only, by the ale.


The residents moved,

in a dosaged trance,

oblivious, to it all.

Content to wander,

the measured space,

never knowing, just how small.


But, the ground’s expanse,

could stretch a mile,

the buildings, all red brick

Landscaped fine,

with tendered care,

showed to the eye, a trick.


Peaceful, tranquil, quietude,

to the public faced,

but, away from that, the truth.

Anguished cries, from deep inside,

would not be heard,

by those aloof.


Treatments, failed,

for conditions unreal,

imagined, by the docs.

 To be in need,

of medicines,

or worse, electric shocks.


So, there they sat,

without a voice,

on the outside, looking in.

To speak for them,

on their behalf,

nor, not an ear to lend.


Convictions none,

were, to be had,

by none, of those inside.

The staffers, long ago had lost.

But, in there,

did not reside.


The patients too,

were convicted not,

yet, imprisoned still.

Placed behind,

those bars of steel,

and not, of their own will.


Until the day, the edict came,

and, changed forever all,

those inside, their world.

The doors to open,

and the bars removed,

and in, to the fray, be hurled.


For those, who came,

for daily pay,

and they, who could not leave.

Found themselves,

together bound,

and, of the closing, grieved.


No more, the cage,

to hold them all,

 no more, the comfort be.

The end at hand,

for all, alike,

But some, now less than free.


Yet, through the gates,

the egress lay,

before them, one and all.

Who would cope,

and who, would fail,

and for whom, would life, just stall?


 Jack Downing

Jan. 2011




About poemsandponderings

Hearth and Health are wonderful things and if you're without either such sorrow that brings So I cannot express enough thanks to my Lord and to my family and friends for the support you afford! ~Jack Downing~
This entry was posted in life. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Hospital

  1. The scientists and doctors have invented all kinds of names for just about any conditions and even manufacture alleged conditions to justify the application of their protocols which usually involve meds that reduce moderately well people to vegetables to be warehoused. You have captured the sterility of the environment devoid of the possibility for the slightest possibility for a little joy to be found or expressed.

    • Years ago Carl, I dated a girl who worked at a state hospital. Though she did not work in the “severe” section, I did get to see some of the goings on, and I also know a women who, way back,wasapparently sufferingfrom post-partum depression and was given electro-shock treatments as therapy! So I have a feel for the subject at hand. Thanks again for reading my poems and for your most welcomed comments. Jake

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s