Institution's Alive

When i was 7 years old
there was a window in the seclusion room
of the mental health ward
and it had steel mesh
I punched it until
my fists bled
with tear-streaked cheeks
I screamed for my daddy and

mommy
but they never came
and there was a feeling there
I think the institution is alive

then in the state hospital
we had those same windows
only they were not just in seclusion
but in our bedrooms.
I would gaze out the windows and see the
sunset
blazing in the distance and imagine

freedom.
there we were
the watcher in the windows looking out
from behind the razor wire fences
sick people who did sick things and
weren't safe
safe
in the real world.

so today i was in college
and i was walking up the stairs and suddenly
i noticed the window in the stairwell,
with the dappled steel mesh,
that lets in the light in a polka dot pattern
and i gently hit the metal
for old times sake,
And i thought...
It's not so different out here
our prisons are made of rules
and people to please
mysterys and riddles
and we still
like angels without wings
long to take flight
desire
to be truly free
from these

institutions are dead

by Erik Larson

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