- Books, Literature, and Writing
Where Are You, Randle P. McMurphy?
I work for the Combine
Sweeping its floors
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.
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.