Photo By Jools Thatcher

Photo By Jools Thatcher

The theme for this week’s JVG Radio Method poem is “ Mental Asylums “.
Good afternoon John, and once again greetings from Coventry.

Very interesting theme this week and one in which I’ve had first hand experience.

Even in these supposedly more enlightened times, there is still wariness, ignorance, unease and many misconceptions attached to mental illness.

It is not a weakness, it is not a flaw, there is no shame and it should be discussed more openly.

Despite the devastating impact mental illness can have on sufferers and those around them, it does not define you.

Consider some past Psychiatric Hospital alumni including Woody Guthrie, Sylvia Plath, Peter Green, Syd Barrett, Vivien Leigh, Beethoven, Brian Wilson and Joey Ramone.

Now that would be a hell of a ward.

To play this poem directly in your browser – just click the “play” button below:
[audio:JVG_Poem20130901.mp3]

Also have a listen to the songs on the New Album “Angel In Reverse


Mental Asylums

Door: locked
Window: barred
Walls and roof: white acoustic tiles
Bed, glass of water – Careful, I could drown.
Ring if you require the toilet.

A hatch slides open once an hour
‘How are you?” “Bored, when do I get out?”
“Speak to the doctor”

A hatch slides open once an hour
‘How are you?” “Bored, when do I get out?”
“Speak to the doctor”

A hatch slides open once an hour
‘How are you?”
Should have said “Bored” not “Do you know there are seventy three thousand eight hundred and seventy two and a half holes in the acoustic tiles?
When do I get out?”

Not any time soon it seems.
At least I’m free to roam the ward.

Albert, who hears bombs dropping at night and runs screaming down the corridor.

Auntie Phil, nicking other patients possessions, wrapping them in aluminium foil and burying them in pot plants scattered throughout the ward.

Lana, bashed and abused for years by the vicious, drunken, coward she married, yet she’s the one locked up.

Sixteen year old Gary, battling both heroin addiction and the evening shift orderly who’s trying to molest him. That will really help him kick his habit.

Frank who spends every day on the veranda behind shatter proof glass, staring at the car park and freedom, pining, like a monkey at the zoo.

Travis, who says he knows what I’m up to.
God, I wish he’d tell me.

Doctor follows doctor, question follows question; opinion follows opinion – conjecture, not answers.

“Schizophrenic, phobic, clinically depressed, paranoid, delusional, psychotic”

“Look at the ink blots and tell me what you see?”

“I see – an ink blot”
“Another ink blot”
“Jesus, a third, and another, another, another, anoth … I think you’re on to something, there’s a pattern emerging”

“Do I hear voices in my head?”
“Yes, but I’ll turn my Walkman off if you think it will help”

“Is the voice telling me to do something bad?”
“Van McCoy telling me to Do the Hustle can’t be good”

“Do I often feel sad?”
“Only when I think of all the little ink blots forced into slavery by bastards like you”

“What makes me anxious?”
“Being locked up for starters”

“What makes me angry?”
“Being locked up for seconds”

“What makes me frustrated?”
“C’mon, thirds would be greedy”

“How do I feel about sex?”
“Sure, but it will have to be your place cause I’ve only got a single bed and the nurse comes round every hour”

“Why am I hiding my emotions behind smart arse answers?”
“Why are you hiding your uncertainty behind stupid questions?”

“What? I can go now? Free to leave? That’s it?”

Can I ask why I’ve been kept so long?

My crack about “seventy three thousand eight hundred and seventy two and a half holes in the acoustic tiles?”

“Because there is no such thing as half a hole?”

Jesus wept – sanity reduced to semantics

© Copyright 2013 Ian Bland

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