How good was The Hospital Poems, Jim Ferris’ first poetry collection from Main Street Rag? So good that I loaned it to an otherwise responsible friend and I haven’t seen it since. Ferris writes with a biting wit and raw honesty about the experience of disability, fighting to reclaim his dignity from the fix-it authoritarians of the medical establishment. From early childhood, he endured multiple surgeries to correct bone deformities, but even as the doctors labored to make his body more “normal”, the stigma and strangeness of institutional life imposed their own unique twists and scars on his soul.
I’ve just ordered his new collection Slouching Towards Guantanamo, from which the poem below is reprinted by permission. Main Street Rag is a great indie press in Charlotte, NC that publishes poetry and literary prose. Their authors have a fresh contemporary voice and a social conscience. Support MSR by pre-ordering their new releases. Early birds get a discount.
FYI, this poem is a take-off on Gerard Manley Hopkins’ “Pied Beauty“.
For Crippled Things
Once I turned from thee and hid.
–Gerard Manley Hopkins
Glory be to God for crippled things —
For minds as sharp as cracked concrete;
For flab that sags, for joints and thoughts that will not come unstuck;
Forgotten lessons, wisdom . . . what? Nothing.
Growths that thrive and work left incomplete;
All legs grow tired, all clocks their hands get stuck.
All things imperfect, asymmetric, strange;
Whatever is transient, moaning, full aware that they’re hamstrung meat;
Lost pieces of walk talk see hear laugh run good luck;
He must love the lame — he made us in so wide a range;
We are his joy, his music all we sing;
Our praise is in our flux.