(In the locked ward of the Morpeth asylum)
The only Sectioned patient banged up in here
There’s some who’d question my voice of reason
Just like it’s questioned why I don’t hear voices
In an environment where discourse (with carpet patterns, wall cracks and light bulbs)
is open season.
Observed like my head is a goldfish bowl
When what’s left in it’s not overly electric shocked and cloudy
I observe, as the inmates anticipate visiting-hour
That the atmosphere in here goes rowdy.
And I marvel how the medical-staff seem to fail to note
What also eludes the asylum’s Chief-Inquisitor:
That there’s many a patient shut away in here
Who came in saner than many a visitor
Who parade through the corridors wrapped in outward-concern
And inward resolution
To keep Tina and Martha and Mary and Bern
In the dungeons of this institution.
Last year my friend Betty came onto the ward
Battered and bruised by Mr Calm
Who’d blackened both eyes and split both lips
And done God knows what to her arm.
She barely could see when I took her in some tea
But I soon got Betty to smile
‘This’ll put hairs on yer chest’ I said ‘and you’ll soon be jumpin’ out of bed;’
‘Aye lamb,’ she replied ‘if it means drinking THIS STUFF I’ll soon be running a mile!’
By the time of Betty’s discharge, with all bruises faded
She’d a positive new constitution
Unaware that when she got home and Mr Calm had her alone
He would execute his own final solution:
Not by killing her himself
For that would be impolite
Just calmly making her to kill her self
In the middle of her homecoming night!
Today St Theresa ‘of the roses’ came onto the ward
Singing sporadic lines of ‘Morning Has Broken’
When what’s breaking is her heart , for her world that’s come apart
Yet her true angst with God remains unspoken.
Yvonne got discharged back to the marital abyss
And her funeral’s at two tomorrow
Her parting bright smile and ebullient bliss
Is a memory that shall always cause me sorrow!
And here amid this Hall of Fame, among the infamous
And the plain unknown-quantity
Our new Saint prays by her bed, oblivious our last St Joan’s dead
While Jesus the Junkie screams in the Men’s Ward for a fix and sanctity.
When morning breaks I think of absent friends
Who’d been to me like playmates, and like mother..
Only to learn Mary’d kept pills and a plastic-bag out of sight
And losing two best friends, I have now lost another!
And with no last-evening hint of why, or her last goodbye
I set out the Locked-Ward’s breakfast tables
And position the butter and bread and notice of ‘nil-by-mouth-to-be-fed’
And study diabetic marmalade labels.
And amid the cacophony of sounds, like feeding time at the zoo
I stir tears into my morning tea
And observe Martha licking her porridge-bowl clean and putting it on her head like
And that Connie’s complaining vociferously about me.
‘There, you’ll not have to wash that now, Beth!’
‘Thank you Martha my sweetie.’
‘All-Bran is not a lot to ask, Beth!’
‘Sorry Connie, I don’t order in supplies. I’m only one of you lot..’
‘Hey YOU! Why’ve I gorra plastic knife?’
‘The mind boggles Kathleen, you tell me? I only followed Charge-Nurse’s instructions.’
.. All to the edifying accompaniment of St Theresa’s:
‘MORNING HAS BROKEN.......’