Below are a selection of poems and short stories we have been asked to share.

The Not Normal Normal by David Anderson

Fuck you’ he screamed

Is that right son,’ replied the man sardonically

Fucking right it’s right, you ugly fat bastard’

the (now) angry man shouted, ‘Restraint

Two other men promptly arrived

Pumped up and aware of the audience

They grabbed the small boy

Whose parents had just cancelled another visit

Who needed love and understanding

Even if he would reject it with teeth and nails


They wrestled his wriggling body to the floor

Face down, he struggled violently

The largest of the three men sat on his back

The other two sat down upon wildly kicking legs

Struggling for air, he screamed, ‘Get the fuck off me’

He told them he couldn’t breathe,

‘I can’t fucking breathe’

We’ll get off when you calm down’, panted the overweight man on his back

he repeated it several times, ‘I can’t fucking breathe’ I can’t breathe’ I can’t…’

‘When you calm down’ he repeated, with added spittle and sweat

A final panic-induced struggle left his body

He went limp before our eyes

Transfixed we watched through the window

Restraint was commonplace and compelling

It had happened to all of us

It happened every day


One staff member mentioned he’d turned a funny colour

The men stood up and looked at each other

They looked weak, visibly smaller, somehow older, haggard even

As if they wore a life-time’s wrong-doing on their faces

Dorian Gray paintings momentarily come to life

One left the corridor to call an ambulance

They falsified the report

Didn’t mention his final cries for breath

They were sympathetically questioned

No-one asked us, the real witnesses


We kicked-off later that night

The storm after the lull

Breaking things, fighting each other

When they restrained me I tried to replay the scene,

I screamed, kicked wildly, went limp,

I couldn’t die


Wee Tommy was really funny,

He pulled mental goofy faces,

 Was good at climbing onto roofs,

He always ate his chips with brown sauce

and hated sleeping with the light off.

Tommy never got the chance to look back on it all

To say, ‘what was that all about, it wasn’t normal after all?’

The Panel Hearing by David Anderson

Plush carpet versus plimsole shoes

Large antique desk and me in short trews

Crew cut hair and snotty nose

Scabby knees and raggedy clothes

Lay people sitting down

Caring, yet put-on frowns

A social worker reads her report

Anxiety begins its choke

They talk as if they know me well

I send them all to an imaginary hell

It’s fight or flight that’s in my mind

Oh, why oh why is life unkind

So, I stand and shout and shout and swear

Scatter their desk and throw my chair

‘Fuck you all, you don’t know me’

From grabbing hands, I try to break free

I wriggle and turn and squirm and struggle

Is it life or me that’s nowt but trouble

So it’s off to the residential home I go

To which end I could not know

A new beginning is what they said

A complete mess is what they made