Mental Illness Poem

The White Van Took You Away

She watched her mother go insane and had the courage to get help.

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Published: February 2006

it is the night
they come
with the white van
three strangers
dressed in white
I as a decoy
have tricked you
into descending the stairs
in the January snow
with the whitest of white
the white van
with the backdoor opened
parked by
that ancient poplar tree
on James street
in Syracuse, NY.
the three men in white
as a matter of fact
used to a routine
that must be performed
best in a swift way
you mother
suddenly aware of
what is about to happen
hold on to my arm
let them take me away
you are my son
don't do it
they ease you
with assured moves
inside the white van
it all happens
so quickly
the door closes
pulls away
from the spot
under the street lamp
next to the ancient poplar tree
I walk around
'till the footprints wear out
the fresh snow

to the deeper layers
of frozen ice
the white snow falling
in the white night
of my under seventeen years of life
the footprints deeper
than the roots sinking
god knows
to what depth under the street
near the dark
wood ornate house
from another century
where we rented the darkness
of an apartment
there within months
the madness descended
you desperately
trying to have me enter
the reality
of your tortured visions
wanting to share
the suspicion of everything
pointing to devices
hidden in various places
under floors
behind walls
in ceiling lights
so no one would hear
cautioning every move
as to protect me
from invisible forces
the endless time
I searched
showing you
there was nothing there
but it was all
so real to you
the war
the foreign country
in the very city
where in another time
you gave birth to me
they took you away
in the whitest night
to the state hospital
in upstate N.Y.



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