I. White Male Receiving
Meticulously manicured boxwoods
drown in buckets of afternoon;
sunlight gleams; white façade
turns ruddy with age; quiet
as far as the eye can see:
painting by Van Gogh, detailed
and manic, tells the budding trees
to shade tiny birds combing the lawn
for food more carefully.
Remember, this is spring.
Old gray vine, knotted, gnarled,
twisted more twisted than wisteria,
strangled, stripped to bare threads
woven around itself into a basket.
I will be the white-man-winter-finch
nesting in your playground.
Shadows like black hands stretch
across the steps, reach into dormant
grass, cover dead leaves, choke
songbirds with silence scouting the way
brick and chain link fence, each window
secured with iron grates, tiny panes
a fist could barely fit through,
incline walkway framed with stucco,
3 times up, 3 times down, eerie
whine of old door hinges in a sudden wind,
Who lives here? How many? Where?
locking double doors leading in
and out, voices echo
through the red metal screens,
red metal grates, red metal benches.
KEEP THIS DOOR LOCKED AT ALL TIMES.
II. Music Therapy
In a repeating frenzy, the chorus makes contact
with the dancers in their heads, shout and scream in
a room with pink paper cutouts of quarter notes
fixed to the walls. All the closet doors are closed.
Has anyone seen the piano?
Tall windows without blinds, old glass
tinted by years of light, heat and wind.
Polyester gold drapes and thick scarlet
curtains block out the natural world.
Lace valances in semi circles hide the peeling paint,
cobwebs and insect nests. Uniform in their dissarray,
variable in color, no two window dressings are alike,
and nothing and no one is too different.
This is not the blue of lichens on the dogwood,
not blue sky at the perimeter of the woods. It is aqua-
ceramic tile glowing beneath industrial light.
All areas are screened and vented for summer.
Linoleum floors waxed to an impeccable brilliance.
Everything is perfectly in place; concrete
window sills green with mold, lamps with shades,
some without. Vents rattle like open mouths of forced air,
flapping up and down, repeating the phrase
QUIET PLEASE, YOU ARE ENTERING A HOSPITAL AREA.
III. New Wardrobe
Through an open cellar window, vines
crawl along the floor, pointing to men stripped,
disinfected. Old clothes piled high on wooden pallets,
in corners against the walls. Gloves
inside the trash, left to rot.
One shattered pane, one bloodied glass,
the inside lock torn open, posts ripped
from the railings. Insurrection?
Fortress walls face windows,
face the brutal geometry of small enclosures.
I will be obedient to my nurses.
Laughter in full sun beneath the cloudless sky,
beyond the great lawn of leafless trees,
some nights howl, corroding with despair--
CONSTITUTION, JUSTICE, WISDOM, MODERATION.