Another ID wristband—tethered to this earth only by name and number.
Another locked room—unopenable from the inside, trapped in terror.
Another plastic mattress—no sheets, no pillow, the only furniture.
Pissed off policeman outside the door, playing games on his phone.
The words WHY, NO and HELP scratched onto the unbreakable
barred & wired window. The camera in the corner with the red light,
blinking incessantly, evil shark-eye, following me. A mix of old and fresh
blood on the walls. The smell of other people’s piss, of vomit, tears,
of shame, the stench of my fear that permeates this hospital holding cell.
I am sitting on the filthy floor, digging bright red holes
in my palms—stigmata for the stigmatised. I do not know
how many hours or days or weeks I have been in here.
The door unlocks and I hide behind my sweat-drenched hair.
I am so fucking scared. Hey Dolly. But you… are here?
How are you feeling? I got you those noodles you like. What?
And a milkshake. And clean clothes. But… but I thought
you’d never, ever want to see me again, not after this, again
another appalling episode in which I “completely lost the plot.”
You kiss my clammy forehead and hand me six lined pages, ripped
straight out of my notebook. The pages are blank. I am blank.
I thought you’d want to write, so I brought you a pen and paper.
I am blank. But they wouldn’t let me give you the pen.
I am blank. You know… in case…
and both our hearts break in tandem.
Originally published by Mental Inkness (December 2022).
This poem is taken from my forthcoming pamphlet, EX-CETERA, which will be published in 2023. I can’t reveal the publisher or release date just yet, but expect an announcement here very soon!
If you enjoyed this piece, you can get a copy of my debut full-length collection, History of Present Complaint. History of Present Complaint was listed in the Top 25 books of The Poetry Book Awards 2022.
I’m looking forward to reading your next book. Your writing is always… well, it’s perfect for me.
Oh T, you’ve made my day. Thank you. I hold your review of History of Present Complaint so close to my heart, really hope I don’t disappoint with the follow-up book! Xx
I know you won’t. It will be magnificent.