Birthday Party at Agnew State by Steve Bell

He was now an old man
of seven years
clutching a stuffed possum, clumsily exiting
the station wagon, toward the benches, under the trees
in front of the hospital where the, mad, the crazy ones are supposed to get
help.

This was his birthday and he would celebrate it with father, sister, younger brother, and that special guest, his mother,
a woman locked away of her own choosing
to escape the voices,
the never-ending vomiting
of an upset psyche
and the spiders that were always
crawling around
the painted walls inside
her duplex
of a skull.

She was pale, thin and nervous
happy to see her babies,
smiling at them through puffs of cigarette smoke
she is the mother of all psychosomatics
and schizophrenics
but to the skinny child she was
oh so pretty.
On this day she was
his center of sanity.

He knew nothing of electro-shock or Thorazine,
in front of him was cake and ice cream…
he knew nothing of padded cells or non-stop screams or sobs
this was his party in the park and he was giggling
out loud.

He knew nothing of the hospital and doctor bills that would bankrupt them all, for in his small hands he held a card
with birthday wishes and ten shiny dimes
enough money to put this moment in a straight-jacket and keep it buckled, laced up
strapped tight.

***Editor’s Note: It is my birthday today. -Allie

stevebellSteve Bell

I live in Colorado Springs (lived here for 19 years with wife and children). Born in Los Angeles and grew up in Redondo Beach, California. 57 years old. Poem is about my mother and I wrote it while in the midst of mood swings (didn’t know what was going on) of bipolar disorder back around 1998.
Poetry was one way I dealt with the pain and frustration of those years. Doing much better now, but I really enjoy helping and advocating for our peers here in Colorado and nationally. Since the divorce rate for people with BP hovers around 90 percent, I feel blessed to have such a wonderful wife.

 

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