Full Moon Over The Psychiatric Ward

A full moon drifts
across a cloudless sky:
the curtains are closed.

Quiet footprints, only detectable
because of the night’s silence
as the tired nurse makes his
4:00am circuit of the ward
striving to stay alert during
the longest o’clock of his shift.

Restlessness seeps under the door
of one room as the sleeper dreams
of her place at the centre
of society, allows her mind to flow
across the colours she will use
to paint her nails in the morning.

Gentle pleasure slides out from another;
the sleeper dreams of his girl-friend
(a figment entirely of his imagination)
as she talks to him of their life together
and he tells her about the flowers
he will plant in their garden.

Fear – great galloping horses of fear,
charges round another room.
Its occupant is trapped
somewhere deep inside the Matrix
as he is throughout his day, and will
remain so until the moon wanes.

The lady in the next room is not sleeping.
She is listening to the walk of the nurse,
plotting what time she can creep out
and into the room of the young man
down the corridor.

He meanwhile
is in deep dreamless sleep,
unaware of what will happen
in the next few hours.


16 Responses to “Full Moon Over The Psychiatric Ward”

  1. Hi David, this is wonderful, it is exactly how such a ward is like at night. You must have seen so much happening there. A nurse so tired he falls asleep 🙂 It is possible too! I wonder if it happend to you?

    I only was there for a post partum psychosis, but after a while, when I got aware of where I was, I noticed a lot of misery and odd people, scary ones too, some were violent, nasty, selfoccupied people, (you cant care of others when you are so confused) , and it was hell being with them. Some of them where there for a fobia, though, and they were more sociable and friendly. It takes every kind of people and everyone can find themselves there for one reason or another!

    My husband has worked 40 years on such wards, I have great respect for people who decide to care for people in such states of mind. And it must be hell never to get out of that state of mind for ever.

    arohanui 🙂 xxx

  2. David, I am so pleased you decided to post this poem. I could hear you reading it all over again and that brought your terrific words to life for me. Its such a good poem and would have been a shame not to share it.

    You have captured the experience of a night nurse on such a ward with great skill and tenderness. I felt all of it too, from my own time in hospital, but the poem, for me, served to reinforce my gratitude that I am no longer in that horrible dark space.

    My favourite lines are …allows her mind to flow across the colours… and Fear – great galloping horses of fear, charges round another room”. A great poem, one to be very proud of ❤

    Love you loads

    • Thank you Christine,

      It was partly your response to hearing it read which made me decide to post it.

      It has changed a little bit since then but the tenor of the poem remains the same.

      And you are so right – we never need to forget the dark places that we came from. They help remind us where we could go back to!!! 🙂

      I too remember those “great galloping horses of fear” They are not present in my life today.

      Love you loads


  3. Ina and Christine are right: you have captured this scene most vividly and tenderly. I like the restraint in your lines, which lets the emotion build up under pressure.

  4. You have captured the feel of such wards perfectly in your poem, David. It takes a strong and kind personality to work at these wards, especially at night time. I always understood that most people can work there for only so long.

    Your poem is filled with kindness, gentleness, respect and understanding of those who have to live most or all of their life in these ward rooms. . Well done , David!

    groetjes, Francina

    • Thank you Francina,

      I think you are probably right that it is only possible to work there for so long

      It was the most satisfying period of my working life

      My best wishes to you


  5. Hi David,

    Ohhh this poem brings back memories for me.
    It is also gently enlightening for those who have not known of these experiances and respectful to those who have at sometime called these places home.

    I don’t dare to think of what the night nurses thought of me. I don’t have a good concept of myself from those times although I do recall trying to escape a lot, and spending a lot of time in isolation.
    My ward had a blackboard. I used to spend a good deal of time drawing on it. 🙂
    I raised a fair amount of hell I think. It was a very dark time and some of the people I encountered have left impressions that will last the rest of my life.
    I’m very glad those days are past me and they serve as motivation to do my best to stay healthy and well.

    Thankyou for sharing such a thoughtful and insightful poem of your experiances. You’ve given me a good pause for thought. 🙂

    Sending best wishes your way and hoping you are well.
    Take good care
    And K’sOTC 🙂

    • Thank you Tikarma for this extremely generous comment.

      As I said to Christine I was a bit concerned about posting it because I was aware that it might awaken memories for people.

      However in a lot of ways I think it does no harm sometimes to look back and to reflect on how far we have come in the intervening period.

      I am very proud of what you have achieved in your life as I am well aware of the hard work you have put into your recovery.

      We need to be able to find amongst all the chaos that little spark which says we love ourselves enough to make the effort. I found it, you found it and those sparks remains alight to this day. 🙂

      I hope you enjoy the holiday you are about to go on.

      All my very best to you all 🙂

      and K’sOTC 🙂

  6. Tonight is the night of the full wolf moon. As the moon flees the earth into the blackness of space, cold shivers into the hearts of trees and those who would be lovers and those who do not find the world a cell within which they can live without sparking into dreams and phantasms that quake as they move into the men and women they have targeted. This is well imagined, David, with a web of sanity and insanity woven together into what sometimes is real.

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