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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Insane in Phoenix, 1908; David Chorlton

Poor Mrs. Mary Hartnett
was transported from Jerome,
accused of believing a plot
to take away her Irish land
whose scenery she described
in terms so lucid they brought tears
to the eyes of physicians considering her case,
while her husband alone
said she ought to be committed.
Judge Phillips also sent
the Russian, Harry Feldman,
plagued by dementia and opium
to the territorial asylum, along with
J.T. Stinson, whose father-in-law complained
that his mind was shaken loose
by money lost, causing residents
of Mesa to fear for themselves.
Old Christian Bauer had nobody
to speak on his behalf
when he was taken from the little wagon
he had filled with garbage for eight years,
as he wandered between hallucinations
along South Seventh Street, where
little girls would never again hear
his harmonica playing as they passed him by.
Nobody visited him
when he looked out of his window at
the vegetable garden, the alfalfa, grain
and the orchard with its many vines and trees,
not to speak of the lake
into which a madman could stare
and see his face reflected
as if he were sane, as if life had been only
an institutional mistake.

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