“John Hinckley Can Move Out of His Mother’s House” by J.M. Francheteau

J.M. Francheteau


His world is a 75 mile perimeter
around the spindle that is Williamsburg—
what’s the point of arguing
the spherical Earth,
in a life bound so tightly
the ground does not curve?
No contrails, no conspiracies,
no Kennedys, just groceries.
The opposite of magical thinking
is not science but acceptance,
that it’s possible to drive off
one end of the world
and appear years later
in another.

A pastor teaches Hinckley
how to order prefabs
off the internet,
to swing a hammer
into wooden pegs
for the small residences
of doves and wrens.
He lives in a room
mom’s hung with his own art,
paintings of horses, castles,
bowls of fresh fruit.
Being not-guilty by reason
of insanity begets a list
of things he cannot do.

Stability is a condition of release.
His mood cannot perceptibly worsen.
He must work three days per week,
and continue to play guitar.
He cannot be lonely. He cannot be
alone for long.
When his mother dies,
he will be allowed grief
within certain parameters,
monitored by men
with phone cords in their necks.
There will be consequences
if he’s caught
searching for himself.

A bullet from a .22 caliber
travels 1200 feet per second,
can take decades to kill a man
re-learning the hooks and pulleys
required to rack a smile into place,
to flood a corpse with life.
John Hinckley can move
out of his mother’s house,
but when she’s gone
he may be moved back.

from Poets Respond
November 27, 2018


J.M. Francheteau: “I came across the strange headline that a man has been allowed by a judge to move out of his mother’s house. Reading the story, and other coverage of attempted Reagan assassin John Hinckley’s gradual release from institutionalized care after over three decades, made me think about the ramifications of allowing someone to live for a crime that would’ve merited execution in any other era–and what it means to go further, and let them actually live. Hinckley is essentially being judged on his ability to act like a legal idea of a sane person, and failure means return to prison, likely for good.” (web)

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