February 19, 1969



I was caged.

Then, I was driven.

Driven to Cherokee.

A hazy memory of riding caged in the back of a police car.

Two shadows in the front seat, the county sheriff and a female escort.

Patsy Cline’s “Crazy” buzzing from a tinny transistor radio.

Outside, the Iowa landscape bleak.

Cloudy and cold.

Condensation and frost riming the windows.

Piles of dirty snow dotting the countryside.

I, cargo.

Destination: Cherokee’s other place, the outline on the hill.

Shifting, crossing my legs…

Please, can we stop?

Hot and steamy inside.

Shivering, my teeth rattling.

Please…I have to go!

Hear something, George?

Naw, nothin’ important.


Cargo has no voice.

Madness has no voice.

Listen, crazy girl…

Two voices: We have come to take you away, ha, ha…

“I’m crazy, crazy…”

Fragments, crazy-quilt impressions, acid flashbacks…

I, crazy?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Institution

February 19, 1969

(The Cherokee Mental Health Institute: Cherokee, Iowa)

Sometimes when you walk under a tree, it can be just as annoying to have a leaf fall on you as a fly to land on you.

–Jennifer L. Semple

A battery of psychological tests reveals that the patient manifests some “mild acting out tendencies which is consistent with past behavior. It is probable that the inclination to conflict with social convention will persist but genuine anti-social behavior is contraindicated.”

–Evaluation of Jennifer L. Semple, by R. Lowenberg


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