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  1. David Gilbert
  1. Correspondence to David Gilbert; davidgilbert43{at}

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I'm curled into a ball

on a thin mattress on the floor

covered with a crinkly nylon sheet

smelling faintly of sick and piss.

Outside the heavy brown door

sits Len, muscly, tanned,

with the Mirror crossword.

Not much older than me,

he's done his fair share 

of hurtling down corridors

readying needles full of Depixol

to slam into the arses of lunatics

like me I suppose.

As my sobbing slows

I hear him humming tunelessly

and clicking the end of his pen: 

‘Mate, your mum said

you didn't use to be such a dickhead.

Let's see. Try this for starters: 

French for dead-end, 3-2-3?'

I don't know whether he's

smart enough to be taking the mick

but I'm damned if this mad man

will ever tell him the answer.


  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

  • Twitter Follow David Gilbert at @DavidGilbert43