We were Care in the Community.
A ward and its inhabitants plucked
from a Victorian conservatory,
poked inside a three storey cupboard,
next door to a bridal shop and opposite
the mug and murder park.
None of our twelve residents
would ever be called for jury service,
wed or beget children –
but that was not the time to unpack
genetic theories of schizophrenia.
We regarded madness as almost wholly
a product of the institution.
What one patient christened The Sound-Air,
that contraption of delusional voices
embedded in redbrick and knight’s move thinking,
would be robbed of its power to demand
and direct without any ears to hiss in;
when the asylum lay quite emptied
normalisation would follow tomorrow.
Tremors, shakes, shuffling gaits
would vanish like bad table etiquette.
We imagined, by setting a good example,
that some of us would rub off on them.
We were merely burnt out and no match
for the shades and familiars, which shifted swiftly
from the outer limits to the inner city.
The Sound-Air was relocated between
the third and second storey;
chemical warfare coursed through the taps
and the aural transmitters were re- implanted.
Their belief systems proved more robust
and enduring than ours did.
Copyright © Raymond Miller 2016
Ray Miller is very old and has too many children. His poems have appeared in Prole, Antiphon, Message in a Bottle, even The British Journal of Psychiatry.