not a lot, anymore

we’re standing in the Staff Courtyard
it’s break time
and we’re doing coffee and a cigarette
when he says to me

I’ve always worked in Psych
I love it

I’ve never been tempted
by anything else

it’s changed though
from the old days
a hell of a lot really

he takes a deep drag
lets out the blue smoke
of a reflective moment
has another sip out of the Styrofoam cup
and says

you know what

about a year ago
we had a real old-fashioned case come in
like we used to get
in the old days

no drugs
no family history
no obvious causes
just crazy

mad as a cut snake actually

it was a first presentation
and it took a while
but we fixed him up
he got better and we turned him loose
he hasn’t been back

that’s what I like best
good straight-forward madness
that you can do something with

but you don’t see much of that

© Frank Prem

Appeared in Verandah Literary Journal 23, 2008

This piece is taken from an unpublished collection drawing on my experiences working in the field of psychiatry, tentatively entitled ‘The New Asylum’, currently being developed into book format in collaboration with my wife Leanne Murphy.

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