under the shoe

under the shoe
   to Frank Le Baige

Kingseat

moments
i find myself
sitting looking
down at the
floor feeling
i’m on such
a height staring
down at
something there
recall it was
you, brother,
and your madness
stamped with a
diagnosis of
‘paranoid schizophrenia’
by a man with
watery eyes i
couldn’t tell apart
from the patients
in that ward.

visiting day
the long drive
out there to
*’kingseat’, the
‘seat of kings’
i called it, told
you once and you
liked the royal
tone of it
the ‘enthroned’
each in their
private kingdom
of queer and
aimless laws
stripped of any
army nevertheless
held with leather
straps at times
the rage descended
on them
the nurses your
rude courtiers
tried to fry
whatever they
thought was in
there out of
your head.

visiting day
mum and dad, me,
sun and wind on
the lawns sun
and wind in
the eucalyptus
trees, sitting with
you in your
little room with
bed at a loss
exactly what
to say,
mum went
to shift her foot
you told her quietly
to stop, said there
was a man on
a tiny motorbike
under her shoe
and not to
crush him.

dad was shocked
and talked about it
driving back, someone
years later told me
you were speaking
in riddles, parables,
a symptom of your
special complaint.

moments i sit
looking down at
the floor i recall
that man, that
motorbike under
her shoe man
and machine
i could not see
but felt

their reckless
hurtling in that
shadow our
shadow i
think.

august – october 2012

*’kingseat’ refers to Kingseat Psychiatric Hospital

4 thoughts on “under the shoe”

  1. I enjoy the balance you have with what is familiar to us in terms of phrases and what is unique to you. It makes me feel like we know each other, and that you always have something to offer.

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    1. That’s a great way of putting it, and I think I tried in this piece to do just that, I was about 13 or 14 years old at the time it happened, and I made up the joke about the name, the ‘seat’ of ‘kings’,

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  2. Hi Peter. A great poem. Moving. I had a friend (more than one actually I recall as I write this) who spent time in Kingseat. Neither, though diagnosed as schizophrenic, seemed dangerous to me and one had written poetry. This poem reminds me of those people.

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