Bedlam *

Joseph Merrick 1862 – 1890. was never put on display at Bedlam, but I take his case as the basis for this piece entitled “Bedlam.”

The Audio Version

Ravening through the night,

Screams tearing bloody tracks

Deep into minds and darkened dreams

Carving lines across face and breast

That mark the flesh of the inflicted

Leaving deep runnels of red.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, Madames et Monsieurs

Welcome to Bedlam, House of the Mad

Home to nightmares that never end

And horrors everlasting to haunt your dreams.

Here we are proud to present to you

A unique exhibition of the unusual, the bizarre,

The odd and the curious, society’s castoffs,

Nature’s mistakes

The malformed in body and mind.

For your edification and your elucidation

I am pleased to draw back the curtain

And present to you

The Inmates of Bedlam.”

A perverse social experiment run amok

In an age of twisted sensibilities

And hardened hearts.

For a coin you may enter this gallery of horror

Drawn from the world’s four corners

And come face-to-face with yourself

As you might have been

Had God rolled the dice one more time.

What shall we make of Bedlam?

We possess no want of cruelty and indifference

That warrant our disapproval,

So in the spirit of “Judge not lest ye be judged”

Hold up the Halloween mask of Bedlam

And stare into the mirror.

Look deep and with perfect honesty

And so once again pose the question,

“ What shall we make of Bedlam?”

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