Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Michael Wilson

The ECT Poem

Ward Round Monday 10.30am a ladder to somewhere else drawn on my arm
the days give each thought a bitter aftertaste
the terrible spun gold has finally been bled from my veins
as you were my boy
but the darkness always looks stranger with a keener sight
surrounded by gluey eyes that try and scratch any meaning from words and words written
over and over on the same scrap of paper til the ink sweats from the page
the doctor looks up from behind a shuffle of notes
"well we can't get there from here but I guess its time to see what we can call upon"
Something pushes my head into a nod and he tells me the treatment will begin very soon

Once he'd recovered his sense and the shape of his tongue
Tim tells us all a ghost story,
how if you change your thinking,
if you try and get off the Guerney,
they strap you don so they can safely feed icy water into your veins
to freeze the life inside you.
He tells me what the letters mean
"You were tricked my friend but don't worry,
it's just like sleeping except you wake so much more tired"

The days stalk the walls like shadows
My time is spent in circles,
orbitting the thought,
on an ever shortening leash.
I spend the night time sweating out my dreams,
and the daylight hours shitting out my fears
Until he tells me its time to go
Hold you head, you're the lucky one

On the guerney the ceiling glides over my eyes
The nurse looks down, distance and affection etch a sketched on his expression
Ward, corridor, lift, corridor, prep room
They inject the coldness into my hand,
and I count back through every mistake I've ever made
They drop the curtains so I never get to see the metal hands that pushed sparks into my mind

And I come back in the middle of his sentence, the world in front of me the size of a postage stamp
He plonks breakfast on the table for me
As my mind struggles into the clothing of thought
"Come on" he says, back to the halfway house,
"Only four more treatments to go"

"Every time I see you, you seem more alive"
Become familiar words from visitors carrying goodwill in brightly coloured bundles
Conversations are no longer conducted through cotton mouth sentences
That muffled everything down to a murmur
They told me at the last ward round I'd get out of intensive care soon
My progress the marvel of a Monday morning

A life to come as full as full as a harvest moon,
and eyes that have seen the things we hide from ourselves only to know the reason why
Shocked back into life, and slotted back into the world

Lot 48

Just now I saw a woman’s back as she fed an empty Shredded Wheat packet
Into a red post box on Oxford Road
Near the Lidl and the Superdrug
In a bulged carrier bag strapped to her wrist
Were egg cartons and such like

Her clothes didn’t look strange but her hair gave away her age
I didn’t stop to watch
But instead fell into an empty pub
To write these words, which seems so much worse
Asked the barman to carry the tea to my table
Cause even after all these years my hands still shake

I wondered about her serenity
Maybe between the knotted ends of furious thoughts
But there was something in her calm determination
That said to me that for her, for one moment at least, all was well in the world
But less so the 2nd, 3rd, 4th deposit she made
I even thought she might be a vandal
About to throw in a lighted match
But there’s enough tinder in there already
I wondered about the clichéd reasons
TV presenter voices, radios clicked off and eyes of strangers, got angry with myself
Then thought of the cliché that these things are usually true

I had wondered for a fleeting shameful thought
About taking her hand and leading her to the bright lights and green metal chairs of the nearby A+E
As stupid an idea as those who kneel beery breathed by the homeless in the cold and give them a list of things to save themselves

I’d probably just distress her, a simple mantra to repeat until such dumb heroic thoughts faded away
And soon the mundane thoughts of how to fill an evening begin to play out instead

So soon it’ll bleed white from memory
Until I see another member of her not so exclusive club
And there she’ll be, a figure to cut out and keep
To speak of in pubs and living rooms
When relevance comes along

So her fate it seems in all is whether we believe in good strong voiced endings
Or long tattered beginnings
The only real connection here isn’t with me and her
Not right now anyway
But whether any or even every other person that’s seen her before
Leaves the road and follows the same dead end path as mine

Digging Tunnels

City life shadows choice with compromise

but these actions on a slippery January night

are so far gone that they come back around again

to make total sense, not only to me,

but all the odd numbered traffic light eyes that watch hidden

and the flick of the timed and secret glances from inside the shine of moving cars

So here I am. My mind in clattering conversation with itself

pulling my coat over my head in the middle of a city road,

to leave it there to show I’m ready

to gain the world in a single night

the winter’s chill a distant sensation

and in nothing but the space and the solitude of a busy city street

And now I feel nothing but regret for every minute my life has counted until this place

and now I feel nothing but the inner glow of knowing

and now I feel nothing from the cars that pass my knuckled sides

and now I feel nothing from my silenced thoughts and seconds that drop like revelations

and now I feel nothing for anyone but me

and now I feel nothing

Because if time is two sided, it gives with the first and steals with the last

if standing on a height fills your eyes with the sky and not the thought of the fall

if you can kill the kid inside you, then it rises again in the morning

if you can walk into the newly franked world with a naked mind

then nothing wrong exists cause you haven’t brought it there yourself

then this will all be alright

So I stumble to the far kerb, tired and beat and bright eyed

and a voice from a sudden person calls out

“You’ve missed a bit” pointing back at the slumped coat where I’d left it to die

reminding me of my Dad’s response to my first shave, and I realise they know

but when I look back, it’s turned into something else, something wrong

and the entire street falls to silence, and the space opens up again,

This time all the shop fronts close in on themselves

and the coldness I barely noticed comes rushing in to wrap itself around my skin

and that soft revelation dims and returns in a harsh edged terrible light

and the space between me and the way back is as far as the one from me to you

when you can never really understand the white grip of loss

from something that your conscripting mind convinced you was there

And time calls out it’s horrible scream and you can’t bend back your mind to where it was

and no one here can help, cause they’re like you, they’re lost but they’re also angry

so you take your battered mind home, but the cuts won’t close

so you take your battered mind home, but the cuts won’t close

and all the street signs seem to read backwards, and you know from this moment onwards

This is who you are

Lucia Joyce (daughter of James Joyce)

Introduction, Lucia Joyce was schizophrenic and was seen by many as her father's muse

the slumped book between the bed and the wall
between the bed and the wall the slumped book
it's cover shape it's dense material
typset it's cover shape
it's dense material typeset
is the focus of a sourceless mind when the mirror only bites
when the mirror only bites is the focus of a sourceless mind

my cottonmouth sentences
spoken in sleep
have a way of stumbling into this world

he carries his original sin
the way this land
was held in the silvery palm of the English

and the lamp light shine doesn't know
many of his words are
half closed doors
strange hand me downs
the thoughts that run from this room to his
but never return

and this night book
fallen between the bed and the wall
was a meandering risk he made
greater than my mind could ever close itself around

somewhere lost among these words
was a chance, fading yellowing and browned
any time it was shown the brightening daylight
to be something other than his fearsome muse
more than a broken lover for his grovelling soft headed subjects

but the real words
are the ones I don't know how to form
never mind let go
to spin strange patterns
across this arcing room

so soon I'll sleep for him
I'll dream for him
to wake with fistfuls of things for him
to fool them again into believing the trick of the strangeness of his lucidity

and the reason of our insanity
is the slumped space between me and him
instead of the shared resting place
of the tender footprints of our most beautiful boundless self

How it all began

He was stood with them on another street corner

A little way back from the road

Where the tigers pass

On the pavement people come by

With trademark tinderbox eyes

He was settled into his own boredom

Lstening to Simon tell that same raggedy arsed tale

But with even more bits and bobs

Stuck loosely on

To make him sound more

Like a bright shiny metal nail

He wondered how Simon thought at night

Did he really see himself

In the words he said

He felt anger tighten in his throat

So he looked over at her

Until everything steadied itself

She was stood with them on another street corner

A little way back from the road

Where the tigers pass

On the pavement people come by

With trademark tinderbox eyes

In front of them all

She was watching him

When he wasn’t looking

Normally she wouldn’t be that bold

But there was sweetness in her belly

And soft light in her sight

The shallow cut on her skin

From the sharp words of her mother

Had already closed over

And there was this moment

When their eyes met

Somewhere in the middle of Simon’s words

And she awarded herself a simple smile

To be unlocked and find so much inside


Watching trails of sweet teethed smoke

As she lay on his stomach

Thin curtains closed to make

A type of feeling out of a bored afternoon

Talking loosely of the not so great adventures

Of such and such and so and so

Fuck, if they were here right now

They realise something about themselves

Wrapped up lightly in the other’s words

He plays with her hair

In a half awake way

She thinks, outside this room

Anything is better than all there is

Or words to those ends

What if there was something, he thinks

Other than the park, the street, the bright clutter corner shop

He releases this as a blast of smoke

Hears a third voice

Even though there’s no one else there


He was stood with them on another street corner

A little way back from the road

Where the tigers pass

On the pavement people come by

With trademark tinderbox eyes

Sick of the taste in his mouth

And their words in his ears

Why would he go back there?

For a pointless piece of paper

It was her delicious mouth

That had troubled his mind

It was her fault

For him turning himself into a stranger

But no matter what they said, he was never given to throw his fist

That’s why they never really trusted him

And every grazing insult

Only built the shore line of his thoughts further


Somewhere between the restless sedation of TV programmes

Walls so papery, when there’s the silence

You can hear next door’s set

Her mother unfurls a coil of words

He’s Barrett’s boy and you know what that means

She knows to keep the deep waters

Of her words as calm as she can

But her mother taps sharp point nails

On skin already raw

She’s already been getting ideas above her station

You’re too good for this house

She feels anger come

And can’t swallow hard or fast enough

So she leaves the argument with a slamming door

Instead of the usual soft slow click

His flat is only streets away

She texts ahead

And he tells her he’s waiting for her

And pretty soon this world will feel alright

Michael Wilson: My writing spins uncompromisingly through the themes of mental health, sex, drugs, and rock and dole. Finalist of Cheltenham UK All Stars Slam 2008, Winner of Bolton Slam 2009 , and upcoming semi finalist for the Radio 4 Slam this year.

Michael Wilson Barry Seiler Chrissa Sandlin Mary Ocher G David Schwartz Jesse S Hanson Adejoh Momoh Keith Nunes Christopher Barnes Tiffani Hollis

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