USF: Napa

Lee and I were late 
for the Psychology Club tour
of Napa State Hospital.

We were taken to a special ward
and told that if we acted like doctors
we had nothing to fear.

Three wings stretched away
from the wire-glassed nurses’ station
in which we were briefed.

Twenty men mostly overweight
approached our enclosure sluggishly
(most had been drugged).

They stared at us as we went 
to see the dormitory and day room
which a patient was painting.

We also saw the medication closet
in front of which a dozen men lined up
to receive their scheduled drugs.

The man painting the day room 
had worked for Disney till he cracked
this was his first work in years.

The wall was covered with cartoons
showing Disney characters at Christmas
(this was the middle of October).

He suddenly grabbed my arm
and ran me the long length of the room
into a closet, slamming the door.

It was only a small coffee room
and he poured me a cup and another
which he had before I’d tried mine.

He rapidly drank three more cups
before the nurse ran in and grabbed him
saying cheerily that’s enough.

After that we joined the others
toured the grounds and heard a talk
none of which I remember well.

I do remember a beautiful flaxen-haired 
Christian Scientist who claimed to be god’s mother
saying she just loved shock treatments.