They were no less than stately homes;
visitors welcome, within reason.
Lovingly sculptured landscape gardens
wreathed the facades of baroque bedlams
just far away enough.
The learned pages of medical journals
were stuffed with architectural theories
explaining how external grandeur
would raise the oppressed
spirits of the mad.
Yet what palace can agreeably
cater for thousands?
The spaceless dormitories burst
with the fetid odour
of a blistered and purged humanity.
A hollow laughter tolled time
for those marooned
behind the Ha-Ha walls.
You’ve stood this side of them at the zoo:
forbiddingly tall to the occupant;
low enough for the visitor
to view unrestrictedly.
A sign requests that you refrain
from feeding the animals.
There are people specially trained
to do that.
If you have any comments on this poem, Raymond Miller would
be pleased to hear from you.