PUT IT TO SLEEP
More terrible for all the time between.
The cicadas were loud,
the sunlight brilliant. I can't say how brilliant.
A memory you can't stop,
sudden - you slap the wheel going to work,
yelling at the past
for what? You stop it
with a smile
checked by tension. Better than a burst
spoken out loud to no one
but yourself, words teased and stroked by regret,
behind which a stare withdraws
to some god-forsaken land.
So you stop it, you stop it. But note the quick fist
you make with the smile.
The silence in the fist
isn't quite nothing. A boy pushing a mower.
I was pushing the mower. Red sinews
hung from the Dalmation's
nearly severed leg. Later I heard the story
of its limping bravely into the car
then put to sleep,
a phrase that needed explaining.
Put it to sleep? Mystery more terrible
for the time between.
Six months tied
snug, spinning like a gyroscope
in the Chair of Tranquility
for an hour each day between lunch and dinner
clears the brain
and effects a calming response
more lasting - and appreciated! -
than one brought on by blackjack
or other of our outdated - though handmade! -
clubs. New, metal-plated
straitjackets - worth the cost
in emergencies - may never
be needed. Here is The Bath of Surprise,
our special favorite,
surpassing the old way
of stomping on patients
to 'rid them of demons'
and knock sense into them - no,
better if they sit unknowing
on a trap door in front of
You push this button -
they drop straight down,
utterly - and this is the key -
surprised, into icy water,
into clarity for weeks,
maybe, happy and willing to help
the institution with such
as pulling the drags:
self-esteem and your - their! -
polished floors go together
we know from the literature. For the few
remaining sad cases - look here:
Seclusion Room, Restraint Cage.
The person must be dead.
When courage is demanded
I open my attache case. I pull out a doll
from my collection,
of someone from my past, a dead one
who gives me strength
with the situation. The person must be dead
because only in death
does magic work.
I carry my dolls with conviction.
I grip one tight and stare at the face - then
act: dot dot dot. Above me:
the hovering cloud of death.
My case is black, and I'm the agent
named Go To Hell.
I direct a secret code around myself
like a tornado. Everyone gets hurt.
I'm left - in glory - alone.
© Tim Houghton 2005