Adam Day

Five Poems from Midnight’s Talking Lion and the Wedding Fire

Keeping focus of a tavern in early-mid New York City slaves,
indentured and poor whites, free blacks, and soldiers stolen
goods traded a foundation for insurrection citizens, regardless
of the body (of movement) within particular administered
world, and equally improved, or lack of dexterity

of performativity of language, lack gestural freedom.
And the enactment is in discomfort. Such liberty form might
in gender place among the fields of help. Identify, perhaps
much here, the not passive, less complex, ever cycle
stimulation. Gestures at loss of self where “I” is no longer

associated with individual experience solipsism in preference
for interiority commentary derived from the administered
world represented by the market church ideology, bodies civil,
municipal, which possess another, a sense of something, of
stake as in Shays and 1,000 farmer veterans of Revolutionary,
farm tenants, &c., against debtors’ prison. Sam Adams
suspends habeas corpus, adds militia, military. “In monarchy
treason pardoned or light punish, but republic offer hanging”
same time Jefferson suggests health of a little rebellion every 20
years for government with exsanguination of patriots, tyrants.
“Natural manure.”


Binary processes; us them, but 1 in 5 Americans criminal
record, 7 million in system 2/3 black/Latinx bolstering rural
economy communities. Prisons opening assisted living
facilities. Abolition - gradual decarceration except dangerous
few. 50% of domestic violence survivors contact system; 25%
them say made less safe. Cross-examining victim like
gaslighting. Restorative justice - accountability, repair, heal -
44% cut in recidivism -turned back to community to work,
care, evolve, job train, school. Crime with highest clearance
rate - homicide 40% murder for free; 60% sent to finishing
school for criming justice Kennedy says there’s no trial system,
but mostly plea bargaining bullying, imbalance of poverty,
influence - brutality in prison, conversion to violent community
once out. Does deter, contain, rehab? Do survivors want other
imprisoned? Who asks?


LaFargue Psychiatric Clinic, conceived by Wertham and
Richard Wright address “artificially-made psychological
problems of Harlem,” mental and emotional distress caused by
a racist. Society. Operating two damp rooms below St. Philips
Protestant Episcopal Church, W. 133rd street, first black
psychotherapist in New York City administered mental health

evenings to anyone open for nearly thirteen years. “[W]hile
theory Negroes have access to psychiatric aid (just as theory
Negroes of Mississippi have vote access), such does not exist in
almost all New York City hospitals and clinics.” Bellevue was
untenable, seeing shrinks worried treating black patients.
Reputations otherwise celebrated. Reason is, “Creation of New
York is, “proof that the impossible possible.”


Psych treatment need, arise so frequently becomes aware
a perspective through which many aspects of income reality
come into focus.” Status is backed by solid buildings, while
personal identity sense often resides in the cracks.” Patient
or “inmate” arrives “stripped of possessions” and “disinfected
of identifications,” for “standard issue” uniform “clearly
marked as the institution.” Conditions inside, for instance:
“meals somewhat reminiscent of real food, through neglect
and legislative penny-pinching…Automobiles,” he wrote, “get
better attention than most mental patients today.”


Question environmental agency, can site transform mind,
remake self? One answer: rise of the asylum in nineteenth
century. In 1840, 18 mental hospitals in States; 139 by 1880
and 300 by start of twentieth century. The “moral treatment”
movement, utopian enterprise argued mental illness
so common in poor, foreign and colored best treated
in peaceful environment, away from urban, where patients
could lead regimented lives under paternalistic supervision,
and strong form of environmental determinism: well-designed
buildings on verdant grounds heal. “Treatment conducted not
only in, but by, the asylum.”

Adam Day is the author of Left-Handed Wolf (LSU Press, 2020), and of Model of a City in Civil War (Sarabande Books), and the recipient of a Poetry Society of America Chapbook Fellowship for Badger, Apocrypha, and of a PEN Award.

He is the editor of the forthcoming anthology, Divine Orphans of the Poetic Project, from 1913 Press, and his work has appeared in the Fence, Boston Review, APR, Volt, Lana Turner, Iowa Review, and elsewhere.

He notes: "The collection" (the poems above are from) "is a book-length sequence composed of linked block poems catalyzed by the last published works of C.D. Wright, prior to her passing."
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