New Poem by Pamela Spiro Wagner


Recalling my month-long “treatment” at New Britain Hospital a.k.a Hospital of Central Connecticut on Grand Street, in May 2014, under the supervision of Dr. Michael E. Balkunas


Naked in restraints in New Britain Hospital 2014










Only nine days after that last adders-pit hospital —

You still wear sunshades to protect others from you

though no one out here believes they are in peril.


Nevertheless, the staff there described you

as “assaultive,” dangerous to self and others,

unfit for company or visitors.

Neither accurate nor truthful

they wrote lies for the sake of their convenience.


Now you are a week from making new friends

in far northeastern Vermont,

in a place magically named the Kingdom

and it’s a move your bruised mind

requires, still unable to let go of

the half-nelson grip of hospital guards

bent on eliciting pain, who, when told to strip you

then four-pointed you naked to a mattress,

replaying their favorite rape scene,

yanking each limb apart to expose and humiliate, knowing

that the nurses’ own official policy was hands-off

and would protect their asses.


You want truth, you wish for reconciliation

but how, you wonder, does any Truth or Reconciliation proceed

when so many refuse to acknowledge

that hospital staff broke every rule,

stopping short of murder only

because you submitted nick of time,

your terror strangled in a towel they wound

around your head and face,

before they injected punishment drugs into your buttocks,

then muted the intercom and sealed the door


No one was ever there to bear witness.

That was always the point,

from your father to the hairdresser

and all the hospital staffs in-between.

They’ve made a religion of secrecy

and no one Outside wanted to know

what they didn’t want to know…


Call this, “our family business,”

call it, “a private shampoo,”

call it, “necessary treatment.”

they could always do what they wanted to you.


And when it broke you, as it eventually would,

when your sudden screams split the night,

and no one could explain what drove you

to empty your lungs,

ripping the air to shreds,

they stood aside and declared you

just “one of the family” now,

no better and no different than anyone else,

now that they’d finally fixed you for good.


7 thoughts on “New Poem by Pamela Spiro Wagner”

  1. Precious Pammy my heart is seared with pain and rage for the despicable and cruel violence perpetrated upon your vulnerable body and tender soul. It’s horrifying. You on the other hand are not! Your courage & poetry becomes you. It is sacred.


  2. Hi Pam, Miss you! I would like to visit you and so would Rick. Maybe when the weather gets drippy with sunshine and satisfaction you will see us happily arriving in my Honda. love, Carole


  3. Dear Marie, LQ and old friend of mine, Carole, please know that while paroxysms of these traumas do assail me yes, even now, three, almost four years later, even though much more safely ensconced in Vermont and well shed of the mental health system, even though not, alas, of medications, I am in no danger of ever being subjected to a repeat of such sadistic situations. My main support in this endeavour — whom I think of more as a doula than a therapist — has made it clear to me that she will never in her powers let that happen. And so I trust it will not, and can work to ameliorate the greatest abuses of the system from outside it! I mean this, and I am doing this even when I have been struck by muteness, as now, for over a month…

    Love to all of you.


  4. Pam, This may be your best poetry offering yet. Succinct, yet pithy. I agree you have been through HELL! Unfortunately a gentle soul, such as yourself has a difficult time comprehending the angry violence inherent in some human beings. They find themselves in the mental health field so that the can yield power over vulnerable and sensitive folks like you. They want to make you bow down to them. My heart goes out, not only to you, but other gentle souls like you. Love, carole


  5. Pammy, I don’t what is there to like in this poem apart from the peotry. It is gruelling and yet so true and shameful. I leave it at this, but you know how much I love you and so do my boys. If only we could hug you and cherish you forever in our family. Thanks for all and loads of love, someday you’ll truly reconcile with the trauma and keep making greater strides to thrive and not just survive


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