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Where Are You, Randle P. McMurphy?

Updated on May 15, 2014
sherrituck profile image

Sherri runs an online craft store and enjoys gardening and listening to classic rock. One day she hopes to be a writer.

I work for the Combine

Sweeping its floors

Watching others

As they participate in mindless games

Designed to make their square shapes fit into round holes.

Why must we play this game called conformity?

Who has the right to say "do this" and "do that"?

And if we are told, "to do"

Because we are only different from the rest,

Why must we obey?

We all see the world differently

We should prize our square shapes

Holding them up to the light

Admiring them for their real beauty

We must stand up and shout

But we remain silent and continue sweeping

Falling in line and participating in games

(Designed to make square pegs fit into round holes)

Where are you Randle P. McMurphy?

With your boisterous manner

We need you to shake things up

Show us how to live.

You did this once before

Never to do it again

And you have been away for too long.

Author's Notes:

I wrote this poem in tribute to the wonderful characters in Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. The book (later made into a movie staring Jack Nicholson as McMurphy) is a brilliant commentary on society and its attempts to make others conform to its rules. As Tom Wolfe points out in The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Kesey liked to shake things up and to challenge the status quo. Perhaps we need more of this kind of attitude today.


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    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 4 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Great poem. You're right perhaps if there were really people like McMurphy to shake things up things would get better.

    • sherrituck profile image

      Sherri Tuck 5 years ago from Virginia

      I have always been intrigued by the notion of conformity and society's treatment of the nonconformist. In this "keep- your- head -down -and -your -nose- clean" world, we are rewarded for playing follow the leader. In "Cuckoo's Nest," McMurphy challenges authority from the moment he enters the picture. You've just got to love it. The ending of the novel, however, ends on a sad note and reminds us of the prices that have been paid by those individuals that were willing. This is the part that always gets to me. Just how far will society go?

    • sherrituck profile image

      Sherri Tuck 5 years ago from Virginia

      I wrote a paper on Kesey in the 11th grade and again in college. I find his work and his life to be an inspiration.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Perhaps we need more of this???? We definitely need more of it. Sheeples need to realize that there is a big world out there and it is theirs for the asking....but they have to ask...and act....and be willing.

      Great message!

    • xstatic profile image

      Jim Higgins 5 years ago from Eugene, Oregon

      Randle was one of my heroes too. Great poem!

      Here in Eugene, we have a bronze statue of Ken Kesey at a main corner downtown called Kesey Square. His former home in Pleasant Hill is nearby. The statue shows him seated, reading to kids. It is always nice to see.

      I really liked the movie "Sometimes A Great Notion" with Paul Newman too. It was made on the Oregon coast and shows some of the "old time" logging methods.