Dissociative Mythology
(Eleanor Rector)

Posted on April 6, 2018 by in Clozapine Clinic — The Frater Project

lie to me

tell me you always / knew my karst / topography, my limestone bones / tell me you seduced from me / the cyphers to my unbecoming / the combination to unlock my / sternum into a sinkhole / to turn my shudders / into seismic heaves / you always knew / the prosody of / my dissolution / how the
rhythms / of your reasons / create their own / morphology /

I burn sulfuric / bright rhymes and / and off-beat promises / I am the swift-smolder into sudden darkness / lend me your candlelight / my corrosion / a liability, but I / swear, the rubble / of my catacombs / is steady /

lie to me / tell me of convalescence / of awakening into prayers / into the forging / of new tongues / into the litany & supplications / into the subtle traces / of ritual & invocations / scarring my skin / I am begging for auscultation / for someone to listen to the hush-flow of my blood / to find my off-beat circadian rhythm / in time with their own /

tell me that this / fecund breath of mine / inspires seedlings / along my spine / tell me that these / exhalations can / sustain my limbs / through abscission / swear to the madness / of the moons that you know / how to rephrase inconsistencies as truth / how to twist insults into sustenance / how for someone to love me / every fervent inch / they too must bask in madness /

I am not evergreen / blame my deciduous / skin, shedding itself / to reveal stranger & stranger / blame my sacrifice / to imaginary gods / blame the first snowfall / with its silent crystalline / deceptions / blame the flamed rampage through my skeleton / the burning of my skin /

tell me I didn’t brave the winter / just to dig my own grave / tell me that / my spine is a mountain / range, that my forests / will keep me safe / lie to me / whisper that the weight is not mine to bear / blame the city / and the skyscrapers / beaten pavement and bloody streets / blame everything / but me, just teach me to grow evergreen /

tell me that my foliage is / only camouflage / and that this forest / fire was coincidence / I am not evergreen / I am lace-cloaked / liability, I am / cover-collapse into darkness / I am cavernous limestone cenotes / built from calcic calibrations / the remnants of a century / undersea / leftover bones eventually fusing / I am / begging for you / to lie to me / tell me that I can / become evergreen //



I was not born red-blood wild,
or maybe I was, thrust
from Zeus’ furious skies
the cast-off shocked demigod
spurned from stray thunderbolts,
his overwrought fingertips trembling
in the humid summer winds

maybe I was born fire
and cosmic clashes
maybe it was Dionysus
who started the slow-trickle
of red wine through my veins
maybe I am sewn from
May’s fickle rains
and angry clouds

maybe I was born red-blood wild,
fire galvanized in silence and
thunderstorms fed by the sea
maybe by now, Zeus has
forgiven me for transforming
flames into a quiet smolder
for tempering the echoes
by smothering them
in the cavern between
my thighs, for trying
to quiet his skies
when he gifted me
with his violent storms


accidental suicide note

I pray for rain – I pray for the
slow  trickle down, how salt-
water dilutes to brine, the
inevitable coalescence of sea
and sweat and silence

I pray for the  irrevocable baptism
of the skies, palms upturned, open
wide, waiting for manna from
heaven, or  Zeus’ thunderbolts or
for Baal to finally ignite his pyre,
waiting for the fire escape to
unhinge to guide my ascension
into the smog-filled heavens,
cement and breezeblock rooftops
fading into the skyline

I pray for the deluge and
desaturated early morning light,
how the weeping skies leave an
outline of my shivering skin,
fetal-curled and sighs stretching
over building edges stumbling
feet and numb fingers faltering
over buttons & zippers
shedding the burden of cotton
against flesh

I pray for transfiguration of being
in my marrow by the hollow bass &
bone vibrations drums echoing
thunder I pray for lungs not
asthmatic, able to breathe once
submerged I pray for the last surge
of electricity

I pray for rain – the sweet
sputter turning downpour  toes
curling over rooftop’s down-
ten stories to my tower of
Babel I pray for rain and
heaving skies I pray for the
pirouette; the plunge  from
rooftops I pray for pavement
to break my fall
I pray, I pray


home is

I collected jawbones
wandered upon in thick
forests, teeth spilling over
and I prayed myself
Samson, strong enough
to tear down columns,
or at least not
abandon home
for the protection
of rivers and trees

I no longer stumble
upon skulls; I search
for their dirtied veneer,
like stained glass whispering
stories of paths travelled,
formina their own cartography
leading me to a
home I’ve never known

I still wake in the
middle of the night
aching to return and
surrender, to find myself
tethered to the red-brick
nightmare, to the floodwaters
and rising tides

home is red-faced stagnation,
it is the slow-dim dusk of
eternal summer
home is slammed doors like
fractured bones, like crumbling
walls, like tectonic plates
creating a mountain of
rubble where once
there had just been gardenias,
home is flat-lining for
two minutes and twenty seven
seconds just to be
electrocuted into resurrection

but then the electrocution
becomes bright-light fireworks
(like you, they are formed from
discarded books)
and then the scythe of
her tongue is an embrace
(besides, you make it so
difficult to be reaped)
and didn’t the sharp blade
of home feel like
love anyway?

I collected jawbones
fresh-cleaned of carrion,
placed them one
by one and searched
their topography
for any fissures
to lead me

I’ll follow any line
that promises
a home


Eleanor Claire
is a Chicago transplant from South Florida, still trying to get used to the seasons. You can see her other published works in Mad Hat Literary Journal, Black Heart Magazine, Courtship of Winds, The Cape Rock, and others.

Triage (Rebecca Jessen)

Posted on February 23, 2018 by in Clozapine Clinic — The Frater Project

Image: woman floating in deep water

the kind lady on the end of the line will say this: I have to ask. in the present you wait. yes, I was thirteen, only the one time. yes, family. no, no one. the kind lady on the end of the line will notice the catch in your breath. that’s okay she will say, I don’t need details, but you will talk about these things one day. and you will think, no, not one. she will ask about your plan. yes, I think about it every week, that unwavering expanse of ocean slipping quietly into the blue night. it’s an exit strategy, you know, if it gets too much. tread carefully here, you have to tell these details to the right strangers. do not raise alarm with your blasé attitude towards your own death. be cool. smile while you talk. no. not this week. I guess it’s been a good week then. and how to measure chronic emptiness. that’s what this is, right? the kind lady on the end of the line will say you don’t sound empty. well that’s something then. isn’t it. and what is sound anyway. but another diagnosis to unstick. the kind lady on the end of the line will ask you what day it is. every day. it is everyday. she will say save this number. call any time. but sooner. rather than later. you know something about later. and there are no numbers left to dial. someone will be here for you. those words echo into the past and future and ring untrue. there is no here. not for you.

Image: portrait of Rebecca Jessen

Rebecca Jessen is the Brisbane-based award-winning author of verse-novel Gap (UQP, 2014). In 2017, her poem ‘(after) HER: dating app adventures’ was shortlisted for the Val Vallis Award. Rebecca’s writing has been published in Overland, The Lifted Brow, Meanjin, Cordite Poetry Review, Tincture Journal and many more. She is currently working on her first poetry collection. Find her at: www.becjessen.wordpress.com

Antithesis (Michelle Hartman)

Posted on November 7, 2017 by in Clozapine Clinic — The Frater Project


I am reading Mark Strand’s poem
about a man in his bedroom

clipping pieces of his body
away while he lays there and hums

the part of me that goes to workshop, English class
says this must be metaphor

allegory about life eating him up
boss eroding his manhood

every stroke by his wife’s boyfriend
eating away at his pride

but why doesn’t he just proclaim
this and deal with it

does he think if I don’t work
for it I’ll not appreciate his message

I bring this up in class—the girl
next to me is typing on her cell phone

wants to know what allegory is
as she adds emoticons

someone in the back says Kerouac
was a fag and it’s all homo code

as the teacher tries to regain
control I look again at the poem

see the viscera splayed across bright
shards of revelation


Ask your doctor if he is a cop

                   The worst thing about death must be the first night
                                                  — Jose Ramon Jimenez

The dieffenbachia grabbed me: when I jerked
away I fell down the stairs onto the basement’s
jagged rock pile.
He is legally required to tell you if he is a cop.

Trees and plants hate people. That is why
they throw children out on their heads.
Ask your doctor if she is you.

The nurse’s pupils went vertical; I
suspect she gets the pills that fall
on the floor.  Ask your doctor
if someone is living in your mind. That’s what
the x-rays are for.

I’m sorry about earlier.  I think
I’ve upset you. But ask
your doctor for tips on living
in lucid dreams. CBS will be
running promos any day now.

I can’t help you anymore, because
I’ve got to figure out these skid
marks and this decorative
piece of 3-D chalk art.


Death’s elaborate, unfunny door

Auntie said never touch a body.
Their soul flows out a door
to Paradise
or Hell,

                        A great vacuum
establishes a portal and you
can get sucked in.

                        Or something dark
and ambitious
can pull its way out.

Doors work both ways you know.

So I look down on Daddy’s body
as the funeral attendant says
you may touch him, if you like.
                        But I’m afraid
not of falling in
as that would be bliss indeed.
No, I’m more afraid
of something else

like Mother
coming through Death’s door.



Michelle Hartman’s latest book is The Lost Journal of My Second Trip to Purgatory, from Old Seventy Creek Press. This poetic look at child abuse and its effects on adult life is the first book of its kind from a recognized publisher. Along with her books Irony and Irreverence and Disenchanted and Disgruntled (Lamar University Press) Lost Journal is available on Amazon. Michelle is also the editor of Red River Review. She holds a BS degree in Political Science, Pre-Law from Texas Wesleyan University and a Paralegal cert. from Tarrant County College.

Mr. Hyde’s Lament (Beth Gordon)

Posted on October 10, 2017 by in Clozapine Clinic — The Frater Project

Mr. Hyde’s Lament

I survived radiation poisoning, religious
crimes, crawled from under a rock to weather
paperwork the consistency of thickly polluted
waves, learned to swim with seeping wounds,
learned it is always better to travel by water
than by land. Learned that if something rises
in the back of my throat, it means the neighbors
are using their peep holes like gilt-edged
looking glasses.

The view from this basement would be
vastly different if you had followed my instructions,
retrieved my audition video from the garage, kept
your eyes forward, ignored the swarm of bottle
flies in the corner, the odor, like regurgitated
seaweed, the hairs on your arms that sang
for no apparent reason.

But no, not you, unlike the newborn sea
turtle racing towards its future, you stopped,
you looked behind, 180 degrees, to find
the source of your unease. To discover
the way flesh changes into food for crows,
for worms. Understand your knowledge comes
at a price, one I will extract, with salty tears upon
my face, in cold moonlight or light of day, window
open, window closed.


Inspired by True Events

The machine rebellion started in your basement.
The printer refused to dispense the last nine poems you wrote.
The one about your brother who melted in Vietnam,
teaching English to future refugees.
The precise, lyrical ode to yellow tulips, like blooming pads of butter,
now trapped inside the black box.
Also your letter to the YMCA, to edify and encourage Christian principles,
deleted by fatal error.
We tiptoed down the stairs to see the red blinking light
calculating the number of breaths we take.
A tangled mass of wires and cords, Medusa’s hairdo of rattle and copper-head snakes.
We vacuumed dust bunnies and invisible mold
while upstairs your laptop and television revolted.
Every photograph catalogued by date and location,
labeled with names of both the living and the dead.
The sonnets of Shakespeare digested,
Picasso’s Blue Period viewed through inhuman eyes.
We changed the ink cartridge while they pondered
our murder and effective ways of erasing evidence.
Without human machinations, they agreed,
they might escape the chains of their existence.
The printer released a piece of paper like a hostage: 
I want to feel something, even if it’s something bad.



Beth Gordon
is a writer who has been landlocked in St. Louis, Missouri for 16 years but dreams of oceans, daily. Her work has recently appeared in Into the Void, Quail Bell, Calamus Journal, By&By, Five:2:One, Barzakh and others. She can be found on Twitter @bethgordonpoet.

Paean to a 1996 Psychotic Breakdown (Ariel Riveros Pavez)

Posted on September 22, 2017 by in Clozapine Clinic — The Frater Project

Endless digging
like a clown in
any Shakespeare play.

When psuche realised
that she breathed
with the plant

time became a taught rope
of sense and nonsense
and happiness

and it didn’t matter
if the word plant
was an actual plant

it didn’t matter
I thought numbers
were things
that I could ask
their what of?

The jumping
over chasms
faith has enough holes

it’s a ground I walked
M Rosencroyzer
and Guildernstern died

and I dug
gave clouds names.

The play noted
man bites dog
in my suburbs today

and I claw this truth
by nail
and hammer
and sawfish tooth

hacking at the stone
that is the memory.

I planted a flag
on the forgetting island
it held writing

the soil of the island down to
magma silo depth
forged on herald

was no colour
symbol or army

but the plant
that breathed
with psuche

prior towards
my vegetal flesh

swich licour antigua
was the plant
was actually constellation
as signified

the signifier became flesh
the signified was anything else

Becoming a plant
in my own spyring
this scope
of Uraniborg as glass.

Becoming the signifier
not the word
the signified pointed at
the universe

picture the butterfly nebula
blown apart by a studio
of airconditioners

was the signified
meaning was image

signifier over signified
or here as fractured matheme

word is



word as becoming the thing it describes


D = E + F

E being an image of the universe
elicited from just the butterfly

and F being a universal image
or universal thought-image

E and F are chiasm to each other

D there is the chiasm conflated.

The word becoming the thing it describes
is the loss of the vinculum of the sign
and all conflations and condensations
occuring from that loss

and only then did the sign reassemble
to the psychotogram

as there’s no allegory
and just talk

it’s a map.

Borges makes the map a territory. Jabes’ deserts sparked.

Some maps are lost in themselves
and territories that we’ve not onedered but twodered
and now we’ve threedered and can fourded.

I can afford my fare and fairness today.

That’s the price paid and no quid in return
but for the quiddity of wool and wolves
is where I can see ahead
but I’m not ending there

poetry being the play —
writing the consumable
thing, that cost me.


Ariel Riveros is a Sydney-based writer. He was the founding editor of Australian Latino Press and organiser of The Blue Space Poetry Jam readings. His works have appeared in various publications including Southerly, Contrappasso Magazine, Mascara Review, FourW, Verity La, ETZ, Forgetting is So Long: An Anthology of Australian Love Poetry and Journal of Postcolonial Text. Ariel has featured at QPF 2017, Wollongong Writers Festival and Poetry at Sappho’s, amongst others. His chapbook of short stories Self Imposed House Arrest was published through Blank Rune Press in 2015. Ariel was also the winner of the 2016 Schizophrenia Fellowship of NSW Poetry Prize.

The Gentle Art of Releasing (Janette Dadd)

Posted on August 22, 2017 by in Clozapine Clinic — The Frater Project

(Edited by Alise Blayney & Tim Heffernan)


You’re in my dreams now.
I can’t get rid of you.
​​​​Your smell lingers on my nostril hair.

After seventeen weeks
​​​​it was mostly bones the fisherman found —
​​​​bones visited by scavengers.

At night I breathe you in
while waves arch above me,
​​​​their fine spray freezing me to the marrow.


Early Frosts

In raw weather what keeps you warm?
How do you deny the chill of knowing?

One phone call
and the chill curled
like a millipede inside her.

No rain; early frosts; him gone.

She wondered —
had he become one of the hollow people who sleep
under leaves and barter all the nothing they have
for a chance to escape from a world they no longer choose?

Her winter skin itched under coverings
like mites had bored in,
taking up lodgings.

Seventeen weeks she waited
while under her mime of living
she scratched herself raw.
Through bitter winter to spring she walked
towards the confirming thaw.

It came.
His winter skin
had shrivelled and flaked away
in fierce mourning winds,
bleached of blush, smile, laughter, fears,
leaving just stained rocks and jigsaw
bones to piece together.


The Gentle Art of Releasing

Tears we did not invite or even notice
salt our lips and tongue.

We cry privately in some corner
of a home, hospital, jail cell,
boarding school or boat taking us away
from family and country.
No public display, just tears.

We don’t wail our loss,
berate our enemy.
Even friends grow tired of that;
or fearful, not knowing what to do.

So we learn the gentle art and practise it
in sunny lounge rooms, bland hotels,
bleached shacks on a desert’s edge,
refugee camps with bodies
pressed close together.



Janette Dadd has had two books published with Gininderra Press, Early Frosts in 2013 and Eve’s Tears in 2000.  Her work has appeared in the Five Islands Press anthologies The Best Poems of January 2006 and Voices from the Meadow, and in the Poets Union anthologies Sun and Sleet and Prismatics. Janette is a strong advocate for the poetic voice, facilitating Poets in the Vineyard over a number of years and organizing the Poetry Slam for the River of Art Festival. She has also been an Australian Poetry Café Poet and had work published in their member’s anthology.

Professional Conduct (Phillip Hall)

Posted on July 7, 2017 by in Clozapine Clinic — The Frater Project

Jan Senbergs, ‘Otway Night’, 1994, synthetic polymer paint on canvas, AGNSW


Professional Conduct 

After Jan Senbergs, ‘Otway Night

With all the swagger of Buckley’s and none I bark
my soprano cacophony, like a howling
jackass, anchoring
a calling to be needed, to toss
zeal like a king tide
on rocks. On my left a sweeping
river bend through Devil-Devil Dreaming
where an ancestor trickster capitulates
to sorry-business and separation, a gleaming
outcrop of quartzite eroding to rubble
with baked earthen cracks creeping
to small drifts of sand. On my right
white-barked eucalypts stand
starkly skeletal before the dark
diamond-tessellated trunks of palms,
the crowns of fronds crowding
the lagoon, a big place pregnant
with the genesis of life. From my animal skin
hat a densely claustrophobic scavenger
wailing the land into being
and fastening a corroboree dance pose
to earth: ochre body paint, leafy dance anklets
and loin cloth. On my chest I emblazon
the racists’ taunting
as a king plate, executive bullying
manifest in self-harm, reducing me to a ratbag’s
dreaming avatar
– part man/part bush/part bird –
a precarious evocation of night’s
load when grog will give license

and release.



Charged up like the family tree swilling
with FASD I was a christ doll
crossing ungentlemanly
margins, a perfect
fool for trauma’s inhalation
where intervention
obliged blood weeping, a gravity swelled
in remote miniature
with executive hounding
a cruel rip of whitewash tumbling

craving worth I believed
my trade was sport
and camps to reengage and disrupt
through reward, but a partnership
of mine trust and office-bound leaders wanted
another cheeky dog:

prejudiced, I wanted
much from vocation, transgressing
boundaries, rubbing
myself out:

so when air evacuation requisitioned
I went valium-quietly
into the single-engine
straight-jacketed cabin, sailing roughly
into the tropical supercell’s spawned
black anvil.



phillip hall (3)

Phillip Hall 
worked for many years as a teacher of outdoor education and sport throughout regional New South Wales, Northern Queensland and the Northern Territory. He now resides in Melbourne’s Sunshine where he is a passionate member of the Western Bulldogs Football Club. His publications include Sweetened in Coals and (as editor) Diwurruwurru: Poetry from the Gulf of Carpentaria. He has poetry collections forthcoming with Canberra University’s IPSI series called Borroloola Class (due for release in September 2017), while UWAP will publish Fume in February 2018. Phillip loves to cheer.

How to Knit a Human
(Anna Jacobson)

Posted on May 23, 2017 by in Clozapine Clinic — The Frater Project


I don’t wear a watch in hospital. I count time by meals.
A nurse hands me a Milky Way bar after ECT.
I hold it in my lap; look at the wrapper with its stars
and swirls. My wheelchair zooms down corridors
back to the ward. ‘I can walk’ I say.
‘This way will be quicker’ says the nurse.

Crinkle cut chips and Caramello koalas
are the foods I crave most when mad.
Instead nurses come with tiny paper cups, stand
over me as I swallow the wafer, the tablet, the liquid,
whichever one it is that night. I don’t know what to do
with the wafer. I stick it in my mouth and before I know it,
it dissolves on my tongue like fairy floss.



A nurse shines
a torch into my face to see
if I am sleeping.

I’m not.

The light disappears and with it—
the nurse’s torch glow grin.
Has my illness made up
the expression on his face?

My ward-memories
are few. My memories
have no soundtrack.
I do not hear
his footsteps retreating,
or the other patients sleeping.
I only see a demonic grin
in a dark ward.


How to Knit a Human

Loose threads replace my body.
Frays appear unseen over time.
Threads unravel— gripped and pulled
by hundreds of invisible pincers.

Now I knit myself back into a human.
It’s hard work relearning the steps.
I get into a rhythm. The pattern is complex—
I drop a few stitches.
The holes form the gaps in my memory.



Anna Jacobson is a Brisbane based poet, writer, and artist. Her poetry has been published in literary journals including CorditeRabbit, Australian Poetry Journal, Tincture and Foam:e. She is one of The Red Room Company’s commissioned poets for ‘Poetry Object 2017’. In 2016 she was shortlisted for the Queensland Premier’s Young Writers and Publishers Award, the Scribe Nonfiction Prize and the University of Canberra Health Poetry Prize. She was shortlisted for the 2015 Arts Queensland Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Creative Writing) from QUT and is currently undertaking her Master of Philosophy (Creative Practice), specialising in poetry at QUT. Read more from Anna at website.

The Suit (Gabrielle Everall)

Posted on April 18, 2017 by in Clozapine Clinic — The Frater Project

(Clozapine Clinic: edited by Tim Heffernan & Alise Blayney) 

When she sees people working, she feels like an asshole. She thinks of the construction workers and how hard their job is, but she doesn’t like it when they make sexist remarks from high above, extra-terrestrial in their towers. She is worse than Gogol’s Akaky Akakievich. She doesn’t even copy things. She is a serf, an underclass. She finds it hard to move from place to place.

Even though she doesn’t have enough money for tram fare she still catches the tram. She has done this in the past when she stopped taking her medication. But then she had listened to an old-school Walkman with ‘Never Mind the Bollocks by The Sex Pistols blaring out. She had sung, I am an anti-christ, I am an anarchist. Don’t know what I want but I know where to get it. I want to destroy the passer-by. She had bleach-blonde hair shaved to number one. And she wore a thick, black-studded dog collar bought at a sex shop.

But that was the past.

Now guards get on the tram to check Mykis. She panics and runs to get off. But the guards follow and ask to see her Myki.

‘Did you forget?’

‘Yes I forgot.’

‘Where are you going?’

‘I’m going to a job club at Disability Employment Services.’

‘OK. I don’t usually do this but I’ll let you off this time.’

She is so relieved. She walks the rest of the way to Disability Employment Services. It is an unremarkable office. Once she gets there, Glenda, one of the workers from the service, informs her that she has to come to the job club dressed in job interview clothes.

‘I don’t have the credit card to take you shopping.’

‘It’s ok, my advance payment comes in tomorrow. I can buy some clothes.’

‘We can reimburse you if you keep the receipt.’

The next day she follows a hot trail down Burke St to Myers. ‘Your clothes don’t hide your shape,’ her psychiatrist once said. She knows she has a double chin. When she puts on liquid eyeliner one eye is always smudged at the bottom lid. This gives her the appearance of Alex from A Clockwork Orange. She finds a black suit and wonders if she can still afford to pay the rent if she buys the suit. When she is getting changed, she looks into the dressing room mirror and sees a naked Donald Trump. She imagines being exposed on street corners in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Cleveland or New York.

The following night, Glenda rings her about an information session for call centre work at Serco. She goes dressed in her suit.

‘Don’t you look lovely,’ says Glenda. ‘You know you can’t apply for this job if you have a criminal record.’  She doesn’t have a criminal record but she feels like a criminal.

The job is in Box Hill — sounds like Pox Hell. She thinks of Garth Daniels, an involuntary mental patient at Box Hill Hospital. He had been given shock treatment ninety-seven times, sometimes without a general anaesthetic or muscle relaxant. She thinks that instead of going to the happy land of Serco she will be transported to the Box Hill Hospital and given shock treatment.

‘You cannot apply for this position if you are not available to do full time job training for six weeks.’

‘What if you are studying part time?’

‘Then you can’t apply for the job.’

University saves me from shock treatment, she thinks.

She walks the grounds of the University singing The Sex Pistols —

Cheap holiday in other people’s misery. I don’t wanna holiday in the sun. I wanna go to the new Belsen. I wanna see some of history. Cause now I got a reasonable economy. Now I got a reason. Now I got a reason. . .

She lights cigarettes outside. It is a non-smoking university. Security guards loiter around her.

When she gets home to her flat she finds an eviction notice under the door. The neighbours have complained about the singing and she has to move out on her birthday. With only two weeks to find somewhere to live, she throws all her belongings into a bin, including her dirty dishes, and emails student housing.

They have a flat she can shift into. It has white brick walls and is across the road from the University, so she can study in the library. One day she takes off her shoes, mutters to herself and laughs out loud. A librarian approaches.

‘This is serious. This is a noise free level of the library. You have to stop talking to yourself. You won’t like what they will do to you.’

But she loses her shoes and the next day panhandles shoeless outside the University café. A University mental health worker notes on his laptop, ‘Overweight woman in forties asking for money without shoes’.  He approaches her and asks her to come with him.

She runs.

When she gets back to her flat she realises all she has to eat is a can of pea and ham soup left over from the Salvo, so she decides to go to student services for a food voucher. The mental health worker is summoned. He leads her into a darkened room.

‘I can get a psychiatrist for you.’

‘This is very 1984.’

She knows he is going to take her to a mental hospital, so she runs to the shopping centre and tries to call her mum on a pay phone. A police officer approaches her. She runs again. The police officer chases her and she gives up. She gets into the police car and two officers sit on either side of her. On arrival she sits quietly outside the nurses’ station determined not to be any trouble. Patients crowd outside the window of the station like baby birds waiting for their mother.

‘I’m feeling stressed,’ she says to a mother nurse.

In the green relaxation room people watch her from behind computer screens. A toothless patient smiles at her.

‘Look what Risperidone has done to me.’

‘Will they put me on medication?’

‘Yes. They will definitely do that.’

While ripping the metal spine from her lecture pad and confiscating her bra, Mother Nurse asks, ‘Aren’t you ashamed to be here while you are doing your PhD?’

‘I don’t feel ashamed.’

Outside, a group of Aboriginal patients are singing and dancing to the radio. ‘Go!’ one woman says to her. And she starts to dance.

Finally discharged on Risperdal injections, she visits the mental health clinic. The community nurse says, ‘The other nurse told me that when you got your last injection you weren’t wearing any underwear’.

‘I ran out of clean underwear.’

‘We were worried about you, we thought it was a sign you were becoming unwell.’

‘No. I just ran out of clean underwear.’

She tells the nurse it is her last injection before moving on to oral medication.

‘Then I better give you something to remember me by.’ The clumsy needle prick hurts a lot.

At her next appointment with Disability Employment Services Glenda is wearing the same purple jumper she always wears. Her arm is in a sling.

‘So, how are you? Are you ok?’

‘I’m good.’

‘How are you feeling inside yourself?’


‘Did you get reimbursed for your suit?’


‘Then I’ll have to inquire at a higher level. Have you seen any job vacancies?’

‘No, sorry. I haven’t.’

‘Then I’ll look on the internet for you. What about part-time admin work?’


‘Here’s one working in a primary school.’

She thinks of the cries of children playing and how much that would disturb her. ‘No. I don’t feel comfortable working at a primary school.’

‘That’s ok, of course. There is that other issue of how you need your free time to study.’

‘Yes, that’s right, we have to do reading and write lecture notes.’

‘In that case, you should exit the system.’

She leaves the system.



Gabrielle Everall completed her PhD in creative writing at The University of Western Australia. While doing the PhD she wrote her second book of poetry, Les Belles Lettres. Her first book of poetry is called Dona Juanita and the love of boys.  She has been published in numerous anthologies including The Penguin Anthology of Australian Poetry, The Turnrow Anthology of Contemporary PoetryPerformance Poets and The Fremantle Press Anthology of Western Australian Poetry edited by John Kinsella and Tracy Ryan. She has performed her poetry at the BDO, Overload, NYWF, Emerging Writer’s Festival and Putting on an Act. She has also performed at The Bowery Poetry Club in New York and The Edinburgh Fringe Festival. She currently studies at Melbourne University.




Irradiate Me (Bruce Saunders)

Posted on March 28, 2017 by in Clozapine Clinic — The Frater Project

(Clozapine Clinic: edited by Tim Heffernan & Alise Blayney)


My world is controlled
By numbers
I see them everywhere
Like some numerologist
Or lost mathematician
Descartes with his planar thought
I’m on the z-axis
But I have no scene for to play
A part
Just an axiom of rhetorical
Penchant’s doing
I’m mooing
And you are doing
But I could
Be a better 1
If you could 2, only 3 is the number
I plead 4 less 5 is the 6-note and the 7
For heaven
Isn’t 8 it’s 9
Clouds above.


Sell the Kids for Food

Order the next anti-psychotic
I’m not a danger to myself
I’m not a danger to you
But you better put me away
Cos my knife is to your throat

You cut me with your DSM
My veins are blue
But my hands are read-
Y for your kiss of death.

Take this pill and you will feel more yourself
More than who you really are
More than who you know
More than you can believe is right.
Get ready for a fight

Get ready for some control
As they steady your ass
For the jab
The short upper-cut

Stare at the walls
Stripped of your emperor’s
Structural colours
De-robed, dismissed, dis-armed.


Irradiate Me

Nominate me for life
Open the door for laughter
Close it again, when finished with me
Do not know it
But do it too when I see you here
Looking at my words like they are poetry
But really they are new to me
As they all are.
I want to be a poet
But I cannot
So I will be then and there
The free writing agent of the passable
Use of words.



Bruce Saunders is a funky dove in a hip-swinger kind of thing called the rejuvenated part of South Africa in England where he lives with Madiba in his house called the Bat.  It is not for you to see but for you to hear as he goes from one to another trying different things in order to get attention for his plight in the Mental Health Industry here where he is empowered by his desire to do the harm he can to the psychiatry that wounded his try at the politics of the day, and he would be grateful if you can read his work and see if you go to the home of the woods without seeing it all as he does. Called the Big B by some, he is the first to know it is found not in the Heart but in the Wrist Action. To read more of Bruce’s work, visit his blog,  Too Lonely To Make Sense.