7,000 Strong (Poem)

Storied bones beneath UMMC* 
await remembrance/exhumation. 
Shoved into a life sentence, they spent 
decades languishing in an asylum—
last stop prior to unmarked, pine boxes 
for those lost/purposely not found. 
Discarded children, spouses, and neighbors 
writhed in electroshock ice baths—
lobotomies on the itinerary. Few loved ones 
mourned once they laid their human 
burdens down—only other crips to cry 
across time and our elders’ hidden histories.

*Heavily reported on in 2017, the University of Mississippi Medical Center has thousands of bodies beneath it from the days it was part of an asylum. Funding for exhumation and a memorial was secured in 2021. Anyone who had depression, cerebral palsy, autism, or any other disability or neurodivergence could have been institutionalized.

This poem never quite worked, but I still feel it tackles something important.
Just adding the link to my poems in Rabid Oak for those who haven't read them.


  1. There are way too many stories about the atrocities committed in the name of mental health. Asylum is supposed to mean refuge, but thanks to stories like this one, that's not really what the word means to most of us anymore.

    1. I remember hearing about kids being dosed with radioactive material just to see how their bodies absorb certain nutrients with cereal. This happened decades ago, but it was only for a test for a breakfast brand (Kellogg's, I think)... not even something to figure out for their health.

      They were in an institution. You know... disposable.