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Where The Asylum Stood

2009 September 29
by William Doreski
1049644_karmicRuled legally insane, Jeff and I
stumble through unmapped forest,
escorted by a dozen soldiers.
Our plot to overthrow the State
of New Hampshire violated
no law but the oath we swore
when we registered to vote.
We violated our oaths
by voting Democratic. Others
did, too, but the government
decided to make an example,
secretly. Now the prickle and slap
of hemlock enrage the soldiers,
who’d shoot and leave us to fester
in the brush if they didn’t fear
being lost in the woods. Only Jeff
knows where the asylum stood
a century ago. A small lake
opens like a sleepy glass eye.
The asylum stood on this shore,
and a slur of brownstone foundation
remains. The soldiers pitch a tent
for us, unload bundles of K
and D rations, and abandon us.
We nibble cardboard slices
of pemmican, wash them down
with stagnant water from the pond.
A few minutes later screams erupt
from the forest. One shot, more screams,
then a tremor of silence.
The forest shivers as a great
appetite passes, leaving us
untouched. Jeff scratches a cross
in the dirt. The soldiers died for
nothing grander than nutrition.
Tomorrow we’ll recover their gear;
but tonight, depleted by that hike,
we’ll sleep as soundly as tomb art,
dreaming away our little fears
by polishing our antique bronze.
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