Chen-ou Liu's Translation Project: First English-Chinese Haiku and Tanka Blog

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Revolving Door Haiku

in slanted moonlight
the hospital's revolving door ...
an old man mutters

FYI: This haiku was inspired by The New Yorker's in-depth analysis of the medical system that failed the people with mental illness: "What a subway killing reveals about New York City’s revolving-door approach to mental illness and homelessness."

...Most of the funding that had been promised by lawmakers for community-based outpatient care never arrived. The dream of deinstitutionalization collapsed. In 1985, the president of the American Psychiatric Association summed up the situation in an interview with a newspaper: “The chronic mentally ill patient has had his locus of living and care transferred from a single lousy institution to multiple wretched ones.”

Meanwhile, police and corrections officers became de-facto mental-health-care providers, one 911 call at a time...According to a Washington Post database, since 2015 about a fifth of people killed by police nationwide have been in the midst of a mental-health crisis.

And this haiku could be read as a sequel to the following one:

some wounds
take forever to heal
tonight’s red sky

Honorable Mention, 2013 Betty Drevniok Award

Elehna de Sousa