I keep saying to myself, stop writing; but I keep on. Oh mother dear, dear friends of mine... As I lie in this ward, they are ogling, stalking me; I’m afraid to doze off, they might pounce on me. These silent, incurable lunatics around me. There are psychos of all sorts; Quiet ones, filthy ones, Starved and beaten as part of their cure; But the one thing I find strange; I am sure they walk around quite undeterred, And the food that is brought to me, These nuts devour without a word. If only Dostoevsky, long deceased, For his Death House Notes, renowned by all, Were to see them as they stand. Banging their heads against the wall; And if Gogol could be told About our life of grief, I am sure that even Gogol Would stare at this in utter disbelief. This is real misery, my friends; But I spit on them, I do, Those violent bitches around me. Ready to trick me, ready to kick me, Standing with their tongues hanging out; By God, I haven’t the strength to shout. Yesterday in Ward Seven, down the hall, Eight orderlies fought to subdue just one. “Let me at America”, he screamed and beat them black and blue; I am not asking for fame or glory, While I still have my health, And my judgment is not yet impaired, I don’t know for how long - do you? The woman who is chief physician here Is a quiet sort, but her mind is not quite clear. I tell her: “I am going mad.” She says: “Just wait a while my dear...” I am waiting but I feel that time is running out; I’ve forgotten the alphabet, you see; As for grammar cases, I remember two, or three... And therefore I say to I, to you, to thee. Get him, take you, take I away, Get me out of here today.
© Misha Allen. Translation, 1971