Military Forensic Prisoner #58,102


It was March in D.C. & I was there to collect

Materials about Ezra Pound at St. Elizabeths.

Upon arrival in Washington, I went straight

To the rust-red hospital-fortress named after a

Forgotten Hungarian Saint on bald overlook of

Anacostia River as it snakes around the tragic

Capitol. I saw the greenhouses, the creamery,

Homeless black shadows crossing Constitution

Avenue above men with mailboxes strapped to

Carts of Iron, saw the tiny Civil War cemetery

Where Union & Confederate Amputee Spirits

Rose seeking out Lost Limbs, Hands & Feet,

Where Lincoln visited & Whitman nursed,

Wrote soldier letters to families, loved ones,

Ran into John Hinckley––sad life attempted

Assassin of President Reagan––in morose

Shoes walking grayly past wind-blasted daffodils,

Tailed by wrinkly-skinned African American social

Workers––their hands deep inside camelhair

Coat pockets. I entered the historic Center

Building, built like a chess piece rook, found

The small, humble plaque outside room 2E-3, the

Narrow thick-walled cell once filled with pears,

Brushes, Chinese ink––where Pound won the

Bollinger Prize for the Pisan Cantos, developed

Bad skin & teeth.



13 March 1992



[Published in Grasslands.

© 1994 by Jim Cohn.] 




(Writers & Books Publications, 1994)