H e a r t   S o n s   &   H e a r t   D a u g h t e r s   of   A l l e n   G i n s b e r g

N a p a l m   H e a l t h   S p a :   R e p o r t   2 0 1 4 :   A r c h i v e s   E d i t i o n






Institutional Wallet


Do you get botox before you kill yourself?  If you're thinking about killing yourself

seatbelt or no seatbelt?  Manicure?  Moisturizer?  Sunblock?  Brocolli?  Vitamins?


Getting into the rhythm of the mental institution is figuring out when people are joking.

M & A discuss Malthus and the geometric increase in population growth versus the

arithmetic growth of food supplies with great earnestness.  A & T discuss girls and

language and whether shoes make adequate transmitters.  T likes to explain things in

language no one speaks but him.  He writes things down for everyone in Chinese.  He is

not Chinese.  The Staff gives us projects to do.  H takes our blood pressure in the

evening.  She is a black midget.  Everyone is politically correct and fails to comment.

She has a tattoo of an eye crudely done behind her right ear, and I wonder what E thinks,

who worries about everyone looking at her.


E & I are the only women on the ward.  I get frequent and effusive compliments, the belle

of Unit 23.  A lifelong goal, naturally.


T spent twenty minutes staring at my feet, then told me that the perfectly polished pink

toenails were driving him wild.  We couldn't continue to talk until I tucked my feet out of

sight.  His talk immediately turned to the Mahabharata.


R and I watched Barbara Walters interview Angelina Jolie. (Born in November,) I was

then informed I was a true scorpion, not one of those other kinds.


M, blinded recently in a head-on collision, cannot actually see me.  After a morning of

conversation, however, he wanted to confirm that I was married.


If only I'd been this popular in high school.


I am wearing no makeup.  When I tried to kill myself I decided to vomit the pills but

woozy fell down the stairs and hit my head, so I have a large purple bruise on my

forehead.  Until today my hair wasn't clean.  Alas, I think all this love isn't sincere.  A

tells me how beautiful I am every few hours, but lacks credibility - he's in his pajamas.


I'm not sure you've really been institutionalized until you've made a wallet.



[Originally published in NHS 2004, http://www.poetspath.com/napalm/nhs04/Suzi_Kaplan_Olmsted.html.]