State Hospital Blues Revival

This poem was written by a man who knew first hand about the devastating effects that severe and profound mental illness can bring.  He was bright, eager, and a dreamer, determined to be a great artist, and had the talent to go far…, except for his illness.  He took a job in housekeeping, was a hard worker and a friend to many.  Eventually, his medications caused medical complications that resulted in his leaving work on disability.  But determined to be helpful, he became a volunteer helping others who dealt with an illness that he knew so well.  He took a strong interest in the Toledo State Hospital Cemetery Project, but his medical condition at the time prevented direct involvement.  George died much too young in 2008, but will be remembered for his will and determination to accomplish, despite his roadblocks.  He would be proud to know that this poem is being shared on this web site. 

This poem by George describes a time of transition in mental health treatment, when the environment was not always sympathetic to the patient’s needs.  It describes his treatment from his point of view.   

STATE HOSPITAL BLUES REVIVAL  ’69 to 2000 Revisited  By George Alan Ewing

Strapped to a metal bed

In the quiet room

Filled with much gloom

Night after lonely night

Wondering why?

Not even being able to see the darkened sky!!

Trapped:  Asking myself,

Gazing into the looking glass

Behind my brain,

“Is this really insanity or

just the hard falling rain?”

The doctor says, “The new medicine

Should slow the synapses to fire more slowly”

but in my mind’s eye

my thoughts are racing

Like machine fire at a turkey shoot!!

Later they loosen me

From leather straps

After a period in ‘69’

When I took twenty separate shocks.

The aides came into my

Pale green lonely seclusion room

Hurling snarling insults,

As if, to add insult to injury.

It began to drive me right up the wall. 

And one day, like any other day,

The Machine spat me out like a large clump of dirt

As through a Bank Door or a Loaded revolver;

Smoking with fire, unspent chambers;

Ready, cocked, to fire again.

The staff had tired

of my attitude and my antics.

When I could prove to staff

that I was indeed a “model patient.”

Or at a Door of Perception,

And own up to their own deceptions,

I don’t deliver my receptions!!!

Could it be that they are not so ignorant,

In fact, of their own insanity?

Laying down silent profanities as what I

Could or could not do?

Or is it age old stigma;

Or syndrome, or them and us?

Then the days of freedom ensued

And I returned to a

“normal” state of mind!

My life was no longer

Filled with stress and strife.

I hold my head up and face the masses!