An Anima Curse For A Profession
(included in John's book, The Necessity of Madness and Unproductivity)
by John Breeding, PhD
7/20/98
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PROLOGUE

I heard an angel speak last night,
    And she said, "Write!
Write a profession's curse for me.
And send it over the frozen sea."

I faltered, a protesting man:
    "Not me, wise woman!
If curses must be, choose another
To send your curse against my brother.

For I am bound by loyalty,
    By blood and love and money,
To brothers who dance with me on frozen waters,
Who give me finger food and share their daughters."

"Therefore," the angel said, "shall you write
    my curse tonight.
From the summits of cold loyalty a curse is driven
As a Thunderbird screams down from heaven."

"Not so," I answered, "A curse
    is woman's purse.
And I am a man who lives with my kind
On lofty peaks of chilly mind.

"A woman's curse needs flowing waters,
    warm waters, boiling waters, rushing waters.
My mountain lake is frozen ice with not a leak,
And I see it from atop the majestic peak.

"It's true," said I, "My heart is sore
    for what my land has bore,
For the souls of zombified child and ravaged elder,
But my waters do not flow, ever."

"Therefore," said the angel, "Build your flame.
    Build a searing blaze, and roar your shame.
Shout out the glory of your mountain height
And let the fires burn bright.

And when the celebration wanes, stoke the fire.
    Add more logs when you begin to tire,
And when dissension rises, pour on the gas.
You must be keeper of a flame that lasts."

"Too much," plead I, "The task you make.
    No wild allowed on frozen lake.
Control of wildness is our fame.
We keep a managed flame."

"Remember, then," the angel said, "your heart so sore
    And what it bore.
Make wild fire until frozen waters melt and flow like blood,
And write a curse from the depths of womanhood."

So I danced and sung and ranted and raved,
    The fires roared and blazed
Until I felt my heart's blood leak
Its frozen waters down my craggy peak.

So thus I wrote, and mourned indeed,
    What all may read.
And thus, as was enjoined on me.
I send it over the frozen sea.

THE CURSE

1

Because you work in a nation which has gained for thee
    the privileges of liberty,
Indignantly decrying threats to your own autonomy,
Yet then coerce, bind, and thong
Others against their will -- for this wrong
    This is the curse. Write.

Because you stand tall in honors won,
    A noble profession,
And vow no harm, but only good,
Yet keep calm footing all the time
on writhing victims of your tortures -- for this crime
    This is the curse. Write.

Because you stand as pillars of victorious position,
    scientific truth over superstition,
And take pride in the fruits of scientific progress,
Yet preach a superstitious pseudoscience using technology's feat
To dominate your fellow humans -- for this deceit
    This is the curse. Write.

Because you are part of a nation proud of being victors
    over Nazi eugenicist murderers,
And espouse a kind benevolence,
Yet go forth practicing social control and calling it pity,
branding others as genetic defects -- for this atrocity
    This is the curse. Write.

Because you prosper in love's name,
    With a claim
To honor in the eyes of the world,
Yet do the fiend's work perfectly
In strangling martyrs -- for this lie
    This is the curse. Write.

2

You will watch while soulful men and women
Degenerate in your institutions into chronic specimens,
    Forcibly incarcerate, forcibly poison, forcibly molest
 Their peace, their freedom, and their flare,
 And, warm and snug in your own palace, you shall never dare
  To question or breathe even a sigh of protest.
    This is the curse. Write.

You will watch while your colleagues violate the law,
Guidelines of professional ethics and human decency flaw;
  And only under your breath will you mutter disapproval
While you remain loyal to the blood bond of your profession
And stand in defense of your evil station.
You will remain silent. You will remain alone. No disavowal.
    This is the curse. Write.

You will watch when souls unite, breaking the chains of tyranny
And celebrate their liberation from patriarchy's knee,
  Smugly seeing mania and waiting for the fall,
Doomed to embrace your false reality and chilly judgment,
Warmth and loving passion forever frozen like cement
  In the icy depths of your own soul.
    This is the curse. Write.

When wounded souls reveal their anguished strain
And desperately plea for help, you will feel no empathic pain
  Nor gratefulness at having the balm of gilead to offer free;
You will hear only the tinny sounds of defective tools,
And bury deep within yourself the hopeless despair you hand these souls
  By poison drugs and brain-damaging electricity.
    This is the curse. Write.

When these same souls erupt in chaos, screaming for redemption,
Rent by Pluto's havoc and destruction,
  You will not bend head nor knee in awe-filled wonder.
Pluto's force that may have saved you yields not a humbling prayer
That might redeem you, but only frozen terror
  And a brutal squashing of what might have been, forever.
    This is the curse. Write.

When families present their daughters and sons
Singing canary sounds of leaking poisons,
  You will not see the spirited souls of untamed young,
But only poor defective neuro/bio unfortunates behold,
And bury deep within yourself the hopeless despair you have sold
  As you feed them venom of your forked tongue.
    This is the curse. Write.

When old people are cast out of their communities
And brought before you with desperate pleas,
  You will not speak in honor of each elder,
Nor at the disrespect we show them will your outrage flare;
You will be mute and bury deep within yourself the shame and despair
  Of sealing their graves with poison drugs and electroshock, silencing forever.
    This is the curse. Write.

When brave ones question the wisdom of your solution
And courageously resist control and coercion,
  You will reject this gift in haughty indignation
And throttle them backward to death,
Deprived forever of the joy of empowering health
  And the gift of turning inward for your own salvation.
    This is the curse. Write.

When good people are praying erect
That the Spirit may liberate her oppressed elect
  And deliver the earth,
The prayer in your ears, said low,
Shall sound like the tramp of a foe
  That's driving you forth.
    This is the curse. Write.

When wise men give you their praise,
They shall halt in the heat of the phrase,
  As if carried too far.
When you boast your own charters kept true,
You shall blush; for the thing which you do
  Derides what you are.
    This is the curse. Write.

When fools cast taunts at your gate,
Your scorn you shall somewhat abate
  As you look over the wall;
For your conscience, tradition, and name,
Explode with a deadlier blame
  Than the worst of them all.
    This is the curse. Write.

Go, wherever ill deeds shall be done,
Go, plant your flag in the sun
  Beside the ill-doers!
And recoil from clenching the curse
Of God's witnessing Universe
  With a curse of yours.
    This is the curse. Write.

(An adaptation of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's 1860 poem, A Curse For A Nation, directed at the United States for slavery. The poem retains Browning's structure, rhyme and meter, as well as many of her words.)
To read A Story Behind the Curse, click here