5 April 1952 / Washington D.C.

I visited my old friend, Ezra Pound, today. Since the end of the war he has been institutionalized at St. Elizabeth's mental hospital in Washington DC. I was in town to provide an unsanctioned blessing of the cherry blossoms, and took the opportunity to drop by and see if there was anything I could do to help.

I approached the situation warily because I had long suspected that Ezra's allegiance to fascism and descent into insanity were part of an elaborate prank on his part, and did not want to be a sucker. It wouldn't have been out of character for him to sacrifice several years of his life for the sake of a practical joke. For a time, he forsake writing altogether, preferring to work exclusively on the machinations of a single prank. This one involved him excusing himself from a dinner party to an adjoining bathroom, then audibly pouring a five-gallon tank of water into the toilet, creating the illusion of a comically outsized "leak." T.S. Eliot wrote about the gag at length in "The Wasteland," but Pound himself edited it out, either for aesthetic reasons, or to be able to ply it on more unsuspecting guests. We will never know which, because, as I found out at St. Elizabeth's, his madness is no stunt.

Upon seeing him, my heart sank. His wild, staring eyes only occasionally pierced the mats of hair that hung over his face, but even that was more than I could bear. To look into them was to stare into the abyss, and the frenetic swarm of cartoon bees that decorated his pajamas seemed to echo the disquiet of his mind. Also, I am pretty sure that he had been using mashed peas as a pomade.

Despite my efforts to rekindle our friendship, there was nothing to suggest he even remembered who I am. To him, I was just a person willing to listen to his ranting. In between his complaints about the quality of lozenge provided by the hospital, he told me about a great work which was nearing completion that would redeem his literary and personal reputation. It was to be a novelized history of the Federal Reserve, told in the style of a detective story, and all of the main characters were to be coins.

I cut my visit short, choosing to climb out of a window and sprint away from the hospital rather than endure any more nostalgic pain. In hindsight, I am sorry for the confusion this caused with the staff. I wanted to run back in time, to leave behind the madman and the accomplished hero that we have respectively become. I longed to be back in Paris, ham-boning the rhythm to which Ezra recited his imagistic poems and shot his pearl-handled six-shooters into the night sky. Will we all go mad? Have we always been so? I will not let my mind dwell upon it.