My parents didnít know I was a poet;
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they thought I was practicing suicide notes.
They took me in for evaluation that revealed an I.Q.
half again higher than a feverish hummingbird in Fahrenheit.
That really caused concern.
To them, genius was akin to madness.
Armed with my journal of verse, they committed me
to psychiatric observation for my own good, at sixteen.
I was given the alliterative diagnosis: Adolescent adjustment anxiety.
I began to write more than ever.
Obviously, in their opinion, I was not getting well.
ďArenít there some medications you could use?Ē they asked the psychiatrist.
He obliged, however, this only served to make me
introspectively document the experiments performed on me.
Things got worse.
I learned about a whole new world
from which I had been sheltered. I discovered
that consciousness could be altered, professionally by doctors
and recreationally by patients. I bunked with true lunatics. We exchanged counsel.
I learned a new vocabulary.
My verse became darker, richer, thick with imagery previously foreign
to my experience. When the doctor shared my journal with my parents,
they saw no progress. It only served to convince them treatment was futile.
In the heart of sunny Orange County, their son was descending into bedlam.
To me, it was eccentric Summer-camp.
So my schooling wouldnít suffer, they arranged my release,
But, confined, Iíd been broadened, awakened, made aware and independent.
From guilt or need for a break, they packed me off to Europe that next Summer.
At seventeen -- out of the loony bin and into the world -- they hoped Iíd find my joy.
Forty years later, Iím still happily writing.
The quickest way for me to learn something new is to first understand why I'd like to learn it.