Author: Romy Durrant

Romy Durrant is 20 years old and is currently a student at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia. She can be found on Tumblr and Twitter.

One poem

1

i get the call from emergency
on a tram to a gig

mum tried to kill herself
they release her at 3 am

we joke on the phone
about mass family suicide

i hear my housemate fucking a girl
between sobbing fits

*

the next day i’m home with mum
confiscating Baileys

she laughs
when i find her handling a knife,
then emerges from the shower
with razor cuts on her arms

she packs a hospital bag,
i call an ambulance

‘they won’t take me seriously if i don’t seem out of it’ she says,
and swallows more pills and lies on the floor

*

my 18 y.o. brother tells me he loves me
for the second time in 10 years
the paramedics hug me when i cry

mum spills her child sexual abuse story
in the back of the ambulance

2

Rangi is a fat Maori
he sits opposite me at the table
while mum eats her lunch

‘do you believe in arranged marriages?’ he says
and gives me his beanie to keep

another patient collects food
for my mum’s old friend Bob,
an ex-inpatient many times over

he works through his stash with shaky hands
while mum notes the hickey on my neck

*

i give the beanie to the girl i like
and we settle on embroidering it with the words
MENTALLY ILL

*

Joan is the only psych nurse who doesn’t ignore patients
when they pound repeatedly on the office window for drugs

she tells Rangi to have a smoke for her:
‘one on each side, tell me how i like it’

minutes later a girl throws herself against the wall,
knocking herself unconscious

nurses and security flood in
and ask us to vacate the common room while she’s assessed

*

the activity room walls
are covered with drawings and crisis worksheets

mum points out a sleeping patient they call
‘The Chainsaw Massacre’

‘he sits in the toy room every day and makes repeated sawing motions against a toy giraffe’s neck’

*

‘another woman won’t go to the toilet because she thinks bombs have been planted under the toilet seats—so they’re giving her bedpans’

the Paranoid Schizophrenic follows mum round for 2 days accusing her of trying to detonate her with her spectacles
the doctors double mum’s Valium when she starts to feel threatened

*

days later there’s a bomb scare in the ward
because of a gassy smell

the ward is seized by hysteria
some crawl round on their hands and knees,
sniffing under locked doors

the patients conclude it’s someone frying in the ECT room

*

dad only ever phones when drunk

he ends our conversation about mum by saying
‘you didn’t call me on my birthday, you bitch’

3

2 weeks later at Christmas lunch
my brother outs me as a ‘muff muncher’ to my dad,
Bob can’t eat the beans because his dentures are too big,
and mum declares her black cat is too shy to eat at the table with us
after shoving his face into her plate

*

the next day i’m pouring leftover cooking wine and brandy down the sink

 

Early memories of sex and nudity

1

my parents are in the kitchen, fully clothed
dad pulls mum close and thrusts his crotch into hers
i’m rolling a toy car across the floor
i look away

2

i find a plastic bottle the size of a soy fish labelled LUBRICANT

my mum manages a brothel i call
‘the clinic for lonely men’
i’ve seen porno mags under her bed
/ my 7 year old brother standing in my room
with a bright pink boner

back at mum’s i tell her there were pubes on the bottle cap
i anxiously picture my dad masturbating

mum calls dad to tell him to be more careful
about these things

dad gets defensive
‘it’s from my electric razor kit’

3

me and my brother are in the doctor’s waiting room

after a while i knock on the doctor’s door
and he lets us in

all i can see is my mum’s bent legs poking out behind a curtain
the doctor hovers between them
while mum talks to us through the curtain

the doctor has dark skin and speaks bad english
he picks up a long silver object shaped like a gun
and vanishes behind the curtain

mum groans
the doctor speaks in a hushed voice
about not being able to find the cervix

‘what’s he doing?’ i say
‘he’s working on mum’ says my brother

4

dad bursts into my room at 3 am
naked on all fours
patting the floor
/ calling out for his dog ‘Dick’

i climb out of bed to turn on the light
the light startles him awake
he says ‘i’m sorry, i must’ve been sleepwalking’
i say ‘it’s ok’
and shut the door behind him as he leaves

i’m 10
i stop staying with him shortly after that

5

i’m laughing with my mum about my childhood
i take a sip of tea
and start choking on the tea

mum sits back, watching
after about ten seconds of me choking
she removes my macbook from my lap
and pushes me forward over my chair

i vomit onto a navy blue snuggie on the floor
there’s a puddle of vomit at my feet
with a chickpea in the centre

mum asks if it was our conversation that did it

in my psychiatrist’s office

1

the chess pieces are made of glass
they are there to look pretty but not be touched
the tissue stands perky in its box
like it’s been pulled up to look perky
like it’s not meant to be touched
like it’s trying to look pretty

the chess board is centered on the coffee table
which means the tissue box is not
which puts it on the edge

i photograph the chess board
and the tissue box
upload the portrait
with the caption

in my psychiatrist’s office:
should i cry or play chess?

it gets favourited once
no one replies
so i neither cry nor play chess

my psychiatrist is losing his hair
i take a photo
that i delete afterwards

2

my psychiatrist farts in his office
when i am in it

i know from the smell and the way
he shifts in his chair

he also looks like a psychiatrist who would fart

when i picture him as a kid
i see him farting a lot

3

my psychiatrist’s office is gamey
he never has the window open
one time he had a cold
and was snuffling all over himself

the air was gamey and snuffly
with his cold
it smelled bad

i’m already ill
mentally

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