Guest blogger: Emily Dickinson

Hello everybody.

Warning: I won’t be including any new poems here. Those of you who know something about me know that I keep my poems to myself. Out of 1,800, I’ve published fewer than a dozen. In fact, perhaps I won’t publish this bit of prose, either.

joem18b volunteers here at the Union Psychiatric Facility, which is how I met him. Strangely enough, he teaches a class in basket weaving. Basket weaving used to be the principal activity with which mental patients in asylums passed the time, but it has become a lost art in the padded cells of America. I specialize in the use of soft spaghetti and other noodles. This sounds crazy, I know, but that’s par for the course here on the ward. At least I don’t use human excrement!

Of course I am a woman suffering from the pathological delusion that I am an historically famous poetess, dead these 125 years. If I work hard, hard enough, I can recover a reality beyond these, my own personal confusions.

I earn my current permissions level here on the ward by repeating those two sentences to staff whenever appropriate. Naturally I include the statements here in my post. I believe them to be true. Really.

Having said that, let me answer the question most often put to me: How can I be so placid when I am locked in a secure building with no option to leave? My answer: I never went out anyway. I’m perfectly agoraphobic. This is the ideal situation for me. I write new poems every day. I’m allowed to wear a white dress.

My boyfriend is Napoleon. Stereotypical? Not so. There are virtually no Napoleons left in American mental institutions. The emperor is out of favor. Or perhaps the current level of historical ignorance in this country has turned him into an unknown. But this instantiation of him, my Napoleon, has sold me. Ask him a question and his answer is either true when you check it out on Google, or there is no answer available online.

Why Napoleon? If you know anything about the man, you know that he can’t keep it in his pants. That is in no way a problem for me. I’ve been taking care of myself my whole life. My relationship with Nappy, as I call him, is not based upon physical considerations. And please don’t bother googling “Emily Dickinson” and “lesbian” together. The poems that you’ll find referenced there came to me on exceptionally hot and muggy days, when wearing my usual starched garments became unbearable.

Anyway, my father was an extremely erudite man. I believe that is why I am attacted to Napoleon. We can sit and gab about history for hours.

I’m looking out the window now, and I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a pine tree, or is that a juniper? Kilmer stole the line from me, by the way.

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