When the Wards Emancipate the Insane

there is that fragility, fetal

alcohol, father and mother wasted

empties stacked up for target practice

some odd curve ball to DNA, cracked codes

the bones bigger, eyes wide

cleft smile sometimes

the lucidity of the gifted

young child wanting silence

screams as if vampire genes

seek necromancy


dervish in the brain

these men savants escaped

the nest of cuckoos

Fairview shut down with Inquisition

lore, cages, beatings, children of waifs

incorrigible women, gagged, those prompted

by convictions, or defiance

riotous freedom, people netted

up, Shanghaied into this den

of ill repute, scraggly psychiatry

the abusive, learned men and women


shuttered from humanity

things like Down syndrome,

FAS, mild retardation, defiance,

pica, fragile x, the sometimes

discarded special ones, mommy

and daddy needing a break

in that place in Oregon

frozen heart careerists

the bureaucracy of bedlam

these fraternity and sorority

graduates, like Mengele

the Eichmann of little men

women who collected data

sprayed boys with power hoses

pushed pills in revolutionary mouths


some twist of birth fate

CP, the oxygen cut at birth

the canal dark, some whetted

creativity limited only by

physical pushing, locomotion

these put in wards, chicken wire

embedded sunrises, early to bed

early to rise, lobotomies when

unanswerable, recklessly reticent

the fate held by men and women

starched collars, brains siloed

some rotting inside, a gene meant

for punishment, experimentation

while souls languish

locked down, hosed off, veins bulging

the weight of disgust from fellow

species the worst of the drugs


how do we see guys like Clint Eastwood

who told adults with disabilities

Make My Day, screw all of that ADA

for my Carmel castle

is there some screw loose in half

of humanity, shunning their own

inevitability, or the ones etched

in parents, or siblings

they still enjoy the lock and key

minds flooded with electrical blue

twisted shocks, they are the mad ones

leaders at church, the middle class

suburbanite, clean nails, some

deviant drink, dream, locked away

in morose madness as SANE

in the eyes of the republic


but babbling is secret language

shaman sequences

gifts tied to birds, the sequence

of time lifting quantum fields

this alleyway into folding

universes where the SANE are

left as planetary dust

these gifted ones, locked up

by us collectively, they, the gods

of universes

only they see heavens, only they

can speak of planets in spectrums

unimaginable, only they

will rise to be alive

risen by their minds

we call insane.



Fairview, Oregon — Institutional Madness

Photos of the state’s “insane” facility *** 

Fairview — **  A Film

Forced sterilizations! **

Ken Kesey:  NYT obit:

As Mr. Kesey explained, his discovery of Chief Broom, despite not knowing anything about American Indians, gave him a character from whose point of view he could depict a schizophrenic state of mind and at the same time describe objectively the battle of wills between two other key characters, the new inmate Randle Patrick McMurphy, who undertook to fight the system, and the tyrannical Big Nurse, Miss Ratched, who ended up lobotomizing McMurphy. Chief Broom’s unstable mental state and Mr. Kesey’s imagining of it, presumably with the help of hallucinogenic drugs, also allowed the author to elevate the hospital into what he saw as a metaphor of repressive America, which Chief Broom called the Combine.

Mr. Kesey would ”write like mad under the drugs,” as Mr. Wolfe put it, and then cut what he saw was ”junk” after he came down.

”Cuckoo’s Nest” was published by Viking Press in early 1962 to enthusiastic reviews. Time magazine call it ”a roar of protest against middlebrow society’s Rules and the invisible Rulers who enforce them.” Stage and screen rights were acquired by the actor Kirk Douglas, who the following year returned to Broadway after a long absence to play McMurphy in an adaptation by Dale Wasserman that ran for 82 performances at the Cort Theater during the 1963-64 season. The play was revived professionally in slightly different form in 1970, with William Devane playing the part of McMurphy, and again in 2001, with Gary Sinise in the part.

Even more successful was the film version, which was released in 1975 and the following year won five Oscars, for best picture; best director, Milos Forman; best actor, Jack Nicholson as McMurphy; best actress, Louise Fletcher as Nurse Ratched; and best screen adaptation, Lawrence Hauben and Bo Goldman.

But Mr. Kesey was not happy with the production. He disapproved of the script, thought Mr. Nicholson wrong for the part of McMurphy and believed that the producers, Michael Douglas and Saul Zaentz, had not lived up to the handshake deal he insisted he had made with them. He sued them for 5 percent of the movie’s gross and $800,000 in punitive damages and eventually agreed on a settlement. But he still refused to watch the film.

 One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Disability History Week–**



Paul Haeder's been a teacher, social worker, newspaperman, environmental activist, and marginalized muckraker, union organizer. Paul's book, Reimagining Sanity: Voices Beyond the Echo Chamber (2016), looks at 10 years (now going on 17 years) of his writing at Dissident Voice. Read his musings at LA Progressive. Read (purchase) his short story collection, Wide Open Eyes: Surfacing from Vietnam now out, published by Cirque Journal. Here's his Amazon page with more published work Amazon. Read other articles by Paul, or visit Paul's website.

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  1. Paul Haeder said on June 7th, 2013 at 5:14pm #

    Note — Charles is a fine commentator on our society, on the vicissitudes of the community-destroying vanguard, and on all things poetic and literary. Minor poet that I am, my words and phrases spark something deep within the well of shamanistic sense coming from this wise character, a living and breathing testament to what I have found to be remarkable characters in the Great American Drama called democracy-slipping-toward-the-Australian-Crawl-to-Pre-crime!

    We all are debtors, we all are illegal aliens, we all are criminals. Rejoice!

    P.S. Finding the key to on-line gizmos is not always a sign of positive IQ — rejecting it all is the highest form of respect for writers. Relive the word on paper.

    Adios, Charles . . . and here is his email to ME:


    I am not too swift with “logging-on” and making comments to articles generously provided by web sites. Moments ago, I tried to write on your poem, failed, flunked “user name input,” and I resort to this email, a less than desired method of speaking.

    It is remarkable that on the very day of Santa Monica murders, you gave us a Dostoevsky-vision how those committed to wards, people suffering different illnesses, including those physical & mental, can emancipate the certifiable insane. Your words describing “frozen heart careerists… the bureaucracy of bedlam” are serious maladies and marketable image-fits for Big-Pharma & Prozac solutions, but such “help” will not fly.

    Unaware Mr. Kesey neither cottoned to One Flew Over Cuckoo Nest script nor Jack Nicholson’s prime-casting, I regret that the film has been used CHIEFLY for purposes beyond control of the brilliant author.

    Finally, getting back to the horrific Santa Monica event, that poor Saint has underone quite a spectacular phase of a name-disgrace. For example, Monica Lewinsky’s talents and venue for today’s shooting of Community College students and others. What a shameful palace of choreographed crime America has become.

    Thanks for the wise poem. “Hope springs eternal” for even Criminal Minds’ “Unsubs” (in high-places) who upon timely diagnosis, can be cured before becoming next week’s top story.

    Charles Orloski
    Taylor, Pa

  2. The Minimum Wage: Putting Some Myths to Rest  Dark Politricks said on June 8th, 2013 at 10:21am #

    […] Check out who those folk are, here — poem of the day: “When the Wards Emancipate the Insane.” DV Poetry Page! […]