Catalogues and social media ads and MK Ultra and street lamps know every synapse, every hesitation, every swallowed back clause. People walk on and off the elaborate set – Their auras precede them. They drag their house pets and their shopping bags and their desperate solipsisms into play. They carry their minds gently, and try not to spill them over your tennis shoes. What is this? This is a window to the place where I caution you. This is an alleyway, with supermarket trolleys and high trash bins – leading where? To that liminal dwelling. A suburb I drove through, stopped for a piss and a fag, and came stationary forever.

This is a capsule of darkness, a syringe full of secrets under the clinic’s white gaze. This is acquiesce and buck. Rage and lethargy. This is fifteen years unworthy of a Curriculum Vitae. This is going to bed at seventeen and waking up thirty two with jowls and eyebags. This is me as a Swiss Army Knife – opening and closing in a routine vigil. This is my momentary nail file, my sometimes corkscrew. This is an assault to suit every occasion. This is clozapine, risperidone, olanzapine, quetiapine, haloperidol, aripiprazole, sung to us as we sleep. This is us dreaming silence.

What else is this? All the corridors lead to a day room and a sluice room and a room with no furniture. This is hard-line determinism. This is every cog and gear saying go go go, and throwing you every way back. This is DBT and CBT and ACT and a zillion antonyms for ‘Help’. This is reverse psychology. This is me hunkered before a judge, again and again, freedom punctured by a Stockholm Syndrome so slick and beautiful I can only wave my hands like stars. This is quiet quiet, taciturn and sphinx-like, pouring my grief into poems. This is dirt and grit and gunk screaming itself in Twink on the back of a hospital toilet door:

What is this!

This is a life with caveats, an inurement to inhospitable conditions. This is a box inside another box with Ikea furniture and a flat screen television. This is a place of corners. What is this? This is being an adult in a world submerging in its own flotsam. This is what it is to be a creature over water, but only just. Just.