where a long stay patient stares,
out of locked windows.
Blue eyes empty as a drained lake,
a faded dress hangs from sad shoulders,
bare legs anchored in shabby slippers,
her shit slides slow and terrible down her legs
stains the flowers of her dress.
Sharp sounds from the ward kitchen,
cutlery crashes into drawers,
little steel swords put out of harm’s way.
Laughter cuts through doors, convulsive yelps.
Nurses turn keys in locks.
My father is here too, voluntary for observation, they say,
He sits penned, chews over his next move,
pyjama buttons strain against gut,
an illusionist hiding in plain sight,
crackles of electricity rising.
They are wearing masks again,
dazed and bewildered
near the white-boned Occulus,
on the pier where we caught
a boat to New Jersey last Fall.
Over Central Park, Fifth Avenue,
The unmistakable haze of apocalypse,
like when the city fell, before.
Violent rays stab through the stifling gloom
From gaps round the blind in the unlit room.
That master of misery that prowls my life
Is baring its teeth and twisting the knife.
Even my thoughts are too bright and too deep
The light I seek now is the lightness of sleep.
The door cracks open, concern nears the bed
‘Migraine’ I hiss
‘Have you taken your meds?’
‘I threw them back up.’ The usual reply
Moments of silence, the usual soft sigh.
The bleak disappointment, the exhaled ‘Oh dear!’
Returns with an ice pack and mutters ‘Here’.
My world has shrunk into madness again
My brain lies in shards of malicious pain.
The slightest sound fiercely drills through my ears
Fear stops me spilling my acid tears.
Only time can extinguish this raging fire,
The sanctum of slumber my sole desire.
My fingers tap to distract, counteract
The raging brain cells, the neural attack.
My skull has cracked, my mind has been hacked
My soul is straining to stay in-tact.
My eye balls are spheres of splintering glass
I panic, pant, pray, plead. ‘This too shall pass.’
For then in the silence reality drifts
My spirit is soothed, the sands of time shift,
The burden lifts. The raging aggressor’s –
vice-like grip is releasing its pressure.
I exhale the tension as respite draws near
Oblivion beckons –
My refuge is here.