Archive for June, 2014



It was men in suits who came,
No white coats,
With blueless twoless Police
On silent approach.
A gentle knock, soft voices,
Please come with us
The straight-jacket threat unspoken.
So she went. We said
Tearful goodbyes in our pyjamas,
And like divorced parents
Got to see her every other weekend.
I didn’t know nurses could be warders,
Keys on long chains echoing
Endless corridors
Punctuated by rubber soled squeaks
Between locked gates and bolted doors.
On bad days, she didn’t know us,
Sat unvoiced, empty eyed, chemically coshed,
On others, talked
Streams of looking glass consciousness.
We understood one word in ten of.
When at last she came home,
Somewhere a light had gone out,
A facaded ghost at the dinner table.
She tried to hide it,
The dissident’s dread of night time knock,
Don’t let them take me,
I’m alright really,
I’m alright.


Nick Cohen: Writing from London

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