New | Poetry | Three Visions in the Mental Ward by Kevin R Pennington - Part I


Three Visions in the Mental Ward


"all truths are but half-truths; all paradoxes may be reconciled."

—The Kybalion




In the mental hospital

I spent the first day in bed.

Sleeping with fevered dreams

that my tortured mind repeated

as if they were coins

in the arcade of my mind.

Coins that jammed from time to time.

Coins that covered my eyes for payment

across the river and bought me

passage to the Underworld.


Yet, I was not permitted to leave.

I was trapped in my fleshy form,

a meat golem denied rest,

with hand outstretched

toward Hell.


Occasionally I got up to meditate.

Occasionally chanted mantras.

I was crazy and suicidal.

I cannot apologize for my madness.

Poetry saw me through.


I became a hungry ghost

in the Hell between worlds.


On the second night

I sat in my room,

cross legged on the

hard floor.

My legs hurt.


Om Mani Padme Hum


The cold hospital room

was overlaid; with

another image,

as if a filter were placed

over my eyes

and I was in

more than one

place at once.





There was

a broken tusk;

a blue-skinned

God, an elephant

head with four arms.

He had a pot belly.

His arms

moved constantly;

up and down,

back and forth.

I could not tell

what they held.


He sat upon

a raised platform.

He looked down upon me.

In that moment

Ganesha spoke and

it was calm across

the chaos of the sea.


“In some of

your past lives,”

the blue-skinned god said,

“you are a Buddhist,

as you are now, and

in some lives you

are Hindu. You

have worshiped me

in the past.”


I did not know

He was the

Remover of Obstacles.

I did not know

He was the

Lord of Wisdom,

King of Knowledge,

Lord of Writing,

He who is

a new beginning.


I did not know,

so how could

my fevered brain

present him so?


Why would I turn

to a god, when I am

a godless man?

Is this vision

just my madness

come again

or is there

a kernel of truth

in Ganesha's words?


“You are safe,”

He said in a booming

beautiful voice.

"Your work is not yet done.

Your art is not complete.

You must not leave.”


“Are you my overactive

imagination?” I asked the



“Of course I am

your imagination,”

He said.

“The imagination

is holy and given

to you freely.

It is your gift."


He continued:

“I say

nothing but what you

already know.

Your knowledge is

collected over many

lifetimes. My voice

is upon your lips, but

your soul is known

to me.”


He told me

that my mental

illness is karma.

That I committed

a crime,

an evil unkind action

in another lifetime,

but that I am on

the Middle Path

and moving forward

as Buddhists do.


Gaining a little

Dhamma every

once in a while.

chipping away at

the bad karma.

Adding more when

I get into a fight

over politics on



With that he

was gone,

but I was not.

Contemplation as

I sat on the floor

that was a mystical garden

in a hospital room.

I was trapped as visions

filled my mind.

(Original Artwork for the poem has been created by Harsh Kumar) 

1 comment:

  1. Ganesha!! To the Rescue! (ps those political discussions on FB are holy necessary!)