I have been to Madness: it is a house
strongly built, not created.
It looks not at all like the House of Usher
and has been freshly painted.
All the others left when I came there,
drove away in carriages with high-rimmed wheels;
in my bedroom was a lopsized painting,
a pencil, a stone, a box of one-inch nails.
I sat down on the stairs and wrote
about the cobwebs flickered in the wind,
the dark replenishment of love,
the sun, the sun, the sun, the sun.
Nothing reached me there, not politics,
not arms sawed of, not images
of women with soft dresses on, not friends
who knew the cure for curing agonies.
I had a television and I had my scotch,
two dreams—though one was deathly ill;
sufficient cigarettes, an essay book
including Faulkner saying mankind shall prevail.
In the kitchen, there was food enough;
the waterfaucets and the toilets worked;
a picture window stared into the sea—
Atlantic or Pacific—I don’t remember which.
I remember writing up a storm
and sailing into it, my arms outspread.
Thinking that “a gentleness survives”,
I’d let myself be used and broken wide.
So here I was, in Madness, in the calm
rooms with draperies and wicker chairs;
I saw the Future coming down
into a place without me, without doors.
How did I leave? I left. That’s simply all.
I left some zinnias in the upstairs vase,
did not shut the windows; set the phonograph
low volume and the tone control to bass.
I met the carriage coming through the trees;
the silent driver tipped his stovepipe hat.
The taste of poppyseeds was in my mouth;
the horses whinnied and the long whip cracked.
© Dick Allen