I wrote this poem after a training spell at an end-of-the-road psychiatric hospital; it was an interesting experience.
Max had been there for years. On the way home from his bucks’ night, his motorbike hit a low-loader at speed and he lost one foot, the sight in one eye and enough of his brain to place him in care for the rest of his life. He lost his future bride and his friends. He was in his 50s when I met him. Max proposed to the nurses several times a day; most of us were alright with that. Max sometimes knew how sad his life was and at those times he would cry; then he’d touch his tears and look at them, wondering what they were. One particular song triggered this reaction more than anything else – Elvis Presley’s ‘Edge of Reality’.
Max talked to me the other day (a wild man in his time)
I said “You’re gorgeous, Max, but I’m not here to stay.”
He said I was a wide-eyed girl and did I know what that means?
He grinned and said for the seventh time “The Edge of Reality!
Why won’t you marry me?”
Then Julette snapped “Oh shut up, Max! I need to do my charts!
Just shut up Max, just leave the girl alone!”
She didn’t even look at him, and he stared at the floor,
and when I searched to share his pain he was standing at the door.
He smiled and gave his ‘thumbs up’ sign and I did the same;
Max went; Julette worked on her charts; for her a silence reigned.
And next day Max was back again – he sat down over there –
“Pretty Woman, tell me why I have no scars, and why I feel no pain?”
I said, “Max, ask The Man Upstairs, when you meet one day.”
He said he would.
Then someone played an LP of the King.
We all heard Elvis sing: ‘The Edge of Reality’
and I looked across to see Mad Max
in his chair.