Care in the Community

In 1986, the UK started the countrywide closure of the mental asylums, which housed over 100,000 patients, who were moved into the community. It was a noble act but very difficult for many of the former patients, who had to live amidst prejudice and ridicule. They were often treated with fear and suspicion by others, and ostracised from the rest of society. My great grandma was one of these people, and she found it very hard to leave as she had become institutionalised. This poem is looking through her eyes…

They shut down all the asylums,
din’t they.
Lofty, archaic ceilings,
echoing cries
of institutionalise.
Faceless Freud-styled fodder,
clothed in layers of regulation.

Pluck out my eyes so
I no longer see
the haunting corpse
of a ghost of a spectre
of a prison.
That crushed me
in fists of banal sterility.

They shut down all the asylums,
din’t they.
They kicked us onto streets.
Into people,
into mocking,
into laughter,
into ridicule,
loonies, nutters, crazies.
And we don’t know where we live anymore,
us half-breeds.
Walking around in polyester frocks,
yet floating in visions of hospital smocks
and medication time.

Care in the community,
they call it.
Well, it’s shit.
Cos the community don’t care,
and us crazies don’t care,
and we try to get by,
and the people stare,
and they call us freaks
and they whittle away
at our fragile egos,
crushed, broken and weak.
Like discarded eggshells
not Faberge.

They shut down all the asylums,
din’t they.
Freedom should taste like haute cuisine.
But when you’ve learned to live
within a bubble of lithium, valium, Ativan,
something’s got to give.
Imperfection is perfection
in a kingdom where the crazy rule.
But step beyond the lock and key,
to the world where
the weak and troubled fall,

and people cannot help
their ignorance.
For dig to the bottom of
their cruel-school bones,
as you learn to dance
to the ridicule
and you put your face on the joker
of every card you’re dealt.
For the laughs are at you
not with you;
Cheap and how the hyenas choke on
their resonant, acid tongues.

But I live in this half-way world;
my legacy is a white walled asylum
and I hear that my penance
thrives on my fear.
Hail Mary,
hear my prayer.

They shut down all the asylums,
dint they.
The lies they told
with their penny pinching lips.
They told us it was progress.
And they told us it
was freedom.
And I sit here in my prison.
Of fear.

Sarah Drury

PRISONER

20 years ago, during a manic episode, I was restrained and forcibly sedated, followed by a 6 month section. This is how it felt…

I was not a statistic
White walls close into
Slave shackles
Reflecting on a fallacy

Warmth slips frostily
Grasps futile flesh
Whales thrashing
Senseless oceans, mercilessly

Perambulate privilege
Calling out to
Decaying calla lilies
Freedom demise revenge

Harsh cuts its acronym
Empty ears swallow cries
For mercy but echoes
Resound upon ignorance

Snowdrop in a summer’s
Blazing serenade
Snowflake is a pot
Calling the kettle black

©2020 Sarah Drury

Strait Jacket

I am not an exceptional human being
for we all wear clothes
Slobbing around in PJ’s when
our tranquilized, minuscule world
is encapsulated
in a space called home
Killer heels when we’re facing the
fucked up world and we remember
who we are, and we straighten
our crowns
Perchance a smidgeon of warpaint
as our battle cries holler into
societal combat
Cherry lips and spider lashes
spun with purest L’Oreal

But I?
I wear a white strait jacket
White as in hospital issue
boiled to death grey
Sanitised and purity leeched
It looks rather smart with
my lithium eyes and my
lunacy smirk
I don’t wear it for ladies’ luncheons
as padded cells are lonesome bistros
And all that cutlery is contraband
And I’m not fucking Houdini

When my couture isn’t a
hospital inspired affair
I am living one
Valium junkie
Lithium chick
Watching the wall for
the clock tock ticks
which govern the drugs
which make me well
But make me sick
Don’t go high, you’ll crash
Don’t go low, you’ll crash
Can anyone tell me
how to score
a gram of sanity?

Does anyone want to
hold my strait jacket for me?
Try it on?
Wear it with me?

©2020 Sarah Drury

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Valium

Valium
My old cathartic friend
Take a seat beside me
Fuck the ‘don’t get addicted’ trend
Wash down the pill
Act out the finale
That never fucking ends
In your dramatic air
Of sensory obliteration

Take my mind far away
To some fond childhood day
When neurosis
Was a word
I hadn’t even heard
When psychotic, insane voices
Were just another
Exhibitionist exotic bird
And now when I
Hear them singing
They snarl in tuneless, grimy
Sinister threats
Like my life
Smiling at strangers
When the face in the mirror
Is full of acrid, bitter regrets
And hatred

So I pop a Valium
And wait for that glorious
Blanket of don’t give a fuck
I think my friends and family
Must have mistakenly mistook
My strangeness
For not taking my meds again
Does anyone really think
I would inflict that
Suicidal pain
I’d rather stick
Hot needles in my
Eyes
I’m not that fucking crazy.
But who gives a shit now
The chill starts to spread
I’m starting to feel lazy
If I could bottle this feeling
I could peddle it
Drug dealer hazy
Street cred
As fuck

I pop a Valium
It steals my thoughts
Those charming, psychotic quirks
Mad hatter moments
That can’t be bottled and bought
And I am Alice
Lost in Wonderland
And there ain’t no tea parties here
Just psychosis in a teacup
And lithium cake with a side helping of fear
As the medics binge
on the cream
Of condescension

But you, my faithful friend
I may be addicted
But fuck it
Lithium chick
The side effects are contradicted
What is better?
Blood on the hands of a psychiatrist
Or sanity in the minds
Of the heavily medicated
And I owe you
My fucking life

©2020 Sarah Drury

Queens of Lunacy

Six twenty a.m.
Meds not kicked in
Yet
Another psychosis
Again?
I hear the birds
Free bitches
Tunes as though
Life has no locks
No dirty ditches
To dump
The head fucked
In

Like us
Queens of lunacy
Boasting our
Lithium crowns
Regal but
On a different
Frequency
Time for pill pop
Want the fucking
Crazy shit to stop
The clock
Ticks
Out of time

Psycho mum
Drag my bones
Bust my butt
Necking my meds
Like a Valium slut
Popping the pills
To get free entry
To a sanity club
Crazy has
A price tag
I can’t afford
Ring a roses
We all stay mad

I’m fucked

©2020 Sarah Drury