Craiglockhart (Not Yet Diagnosed Nervous)

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Craiglockhart (Not Yet Diagnosed Nervous)

When I kicked over the wheelchair
I couldn’t do the simplest task,
except the epileptic flailing
of my military antimasque.
Turning on the hissing gas-lamp
had me reaching for the mask.
You opened up my mind
and you didn’t even ask.

Sh-sh-sh shut the fuck up,
I think I’m going insane,
I’ve got all these bombs
going off in my brain.
I’m like a rabid dog
at the end of it’s chain
and they say they’re gonna send me
back to the front again.

I’m like a marionette
with twisted strings,
my limbs are jack-knifing
and my inner ear sings
of the pain of war
and other perverse things.
I can’t find the gentle peace
that a hospital usually brings.

No matter how obedient
your soldiers of war,
If enough shells reign down
they will be shaken to the core,
until there comes a time
when they can’t take anymore
and their mind shuts down
behind a glazed, closed door.

You think it might be shock waves,
or poison from the shells
that’s making me withdraw
into this epileptic hell
and sometimes you shrug your shoulders
and say “we just can’t tell,
maybe it’s his lack of moral fibre
that’s making him unwell”.

Your treatments are barbaric,
Explain, Persuade, Suggest
that baths, massage, electricity
are really for the best,
when all my mind and body needs
Is an aching, morbid rest,
and not to feel like a rat
in a cataclysmic test.

So you put me in this chapel
and you sit me in this chair
and you give me books to read
and feign a sense of care -
but one day I will walk from here
and people will not stare
at the dancing crazy fucker.
The Craiglockhart nightmare.

 

Inspired By: photograph by Richard Nixon (c) Rich Pictures

https://www.facebook.com/richpicturesphotography

 

 

 

Craiglockhart Miliotary Hospitalmental illnessPTSDrichpixShell ShockSITWBtreatmentWW1

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Comments

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Ged the Poet

Fri 4th Jul 2014 23:34

Very touching poem Ian.
Had to read and revisit a couple of times to get the full gist but that was just me wanting to take it all in.
The hissing gas lamp a trigger factor for the anti-gas drills causing a flashback and the mind invasion.. the empty chair in the chapel photo and the relation to the last verse.
Great work indeed and food for thought.

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Lynn Dye

Fri 4th Jul 2014 20:14

Hi Ian, I agree with Laura, this is a great poem, very moving, well done.

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Laura Taylor

Thu 3rd Jul 2014 10:04

Great poem.

I love the opening lines of that second verse, and the last verse is killer. This would perform really well. The structure, kind of staccato, parallels the fitting, knits the two together.

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