Thursday, March 1, 2012

Vignettes from the Bin

Telling tales from that place can be tricky
Things you think you remember clearly tangle
Like old reels of film together with other bits of memory
And if you try splicing stories you're likely to end up
with slide shows - boxes and boxes and boxes
O f old-fashioned slides that no matter how often
You try to order them, put them in some sort of chronological
Sense - they always end up tipped over into a messy pile

I know that's how it is for me and I should be one to talk;
Flipping through my own filofax of memories, the oddest unrelated
Things surface and come spilling through the gates
Of some badly charred synapses and out my mouth

To wit: I see myself being wheeled down the hallway going faster
Than a  race car driver, laughing like a maniac, a security  guard and a nurse
Their faces red and sweaty, in hot pursuit - I am looking back over my shoulder
When I ram into a wall and realize I'm not being wheeled at all - I am driving ...

Confined to my room for 24 hours again - under observation like a bug
Oh well - heavy sigh - I agree to go to group as penance - and behave -
I hate group - think it's a colossal waste of time - bunch of lunatics sitting
Around trying to out-shock or out-depress each other - but I promise this one time
So that I will get to go home - to go every day for a week and I also promise
To behave; that is, not be cheeky, not swear, just sit there and be good

And I remember I was doing so good, I was -
It was  the week before Christmas ...
After all - who wants to be inside over the holidays?
And some poor soul was telling the saddest tale ...
I was practically nodding off and to keep from doing that
Crossed my legs at the ankle; forgot I had my Christmas sox on
Under my boots - gift from my kids - they - the sox, not the kids -
Played carols,  if you pressed on them (tinkly, like a music box?)
So, right at the most poignant part of this person's talk
My ankles break out with "Jingle Bells" and there was no way to shut them up
It was humiliating but god-awful hilarious at the same time, you know?
I tried not to laugh - hell, I'm not some kind of monster
Even the shrink-facilitator's face was twitching
The other members of the group started coughing and twitching
And the poor speaker ended up running out
Oh yeah - good times
That's a memory that's stuck with me

Sometimes the smell of toast burning will snap me back to the ECT lab
But there are so few memories surrounding getting 'lectricity
Appropriately enough I only get flashes - the smell of the room where I'd get zapped
The copper taste in the back of my mouth just before I went under
The jack-hammer pounding in my head when I'd come around
And remembering how much I can't remember as a result of the treatments
If that makes any kind of sense
That and for me, the fact the blessed things didn't work.             

Glimpses of the meds nurse bringing around the little cups
Pills - every four hours, counted and meted out - she or he
Standing over me, watching carefully to make sure I swallowed
That was rich - I was probably the most compliant patient ever
All I ever wanted was to get better ...

So many images from the Ha Ha Hilton - I should write a book
Oh right, I am writing one ..." playing crazy eights on the inside"
Kidding, I'm kidding - but we'll see - the other tricky thing
About memoirs of the insane? I don't know about other nut-bars
But I usually find recountings extremely tiring ... yeah ... I do.



  1. I think this would be great aloud. In my mind your voice is clear and then trailing off in places, nervous laughter in others.

  2. yep - agree with darkangel..a piece that gives lots of room to play and act..and really...i have to get some of these "Jingle Bells" socks..smiles

  3. This speak-it-out-loud prompt has brought forth some fabulous poems, and yours is definitely up there with them. It is so real that I flinched with you when Jingle Bells started up.

  4. I did feel as if you were speaking this poem. You set the scene(s) so well and gave details that blew me away. I could just feel the tension when the Jingle Bell socks took off!!!

  5. haha i love your voice in take on the persona well and def think you could ham it up as you delivered it in some places to make this a very fun performance...

  6. The socks are hilarious. Yes, I can definitely see you performing this, Sharon.

    This really stands out to me:

    All I ever wanted was to get better ...

  7. Yes--this has a very spoken quality--it reminds me a bit of Spalding Gray--as much monologue as poem--which is positive. Yes, one does flinch, but of course, that's because it's compelling (and sad.) k.

  8. This would be amazing, performed. LOVE the ending.

  9. "All I ever wanted was to get better..." I love that line! This was captivating...and like everyone else, loved the socks!

  10. feels like living room banter...very relative to many I am sure

    Peace ☮

  11. Loved this...just as if I were sitting there and you were relating it to me...the socks thing was a riot...whew...funny!

  12. Sharon, YOU MUST READ THIS ALOUD at Buddah's site, - you can literally phone it in.

    Having avoided the coppery goodness of ECT, I feel lucky... but I still have all the free hospital footies! And funny thing, I still call it "The Bin," too... peace and sweet dreams that are not electrically induced, your manic-depressive sister in arms, Amy
    Wasn't sure if you had seen this one:

  13. OMG this would be GREAT at Spoken Word poetry slams! LOVE the Jingle Bell Socks!!!!!! I really enjoy your voice in this piece.

  14. I relate to the jumbled memories...I could almost panic, not knowing if I dreamed something or lived it...