Storage Lockers of the Insane

by Peter Halpin
Wild Poetry Forum
Second Place, April 2015
Judged by Lesley Wheeler


Storage Locker #3: Briddlewood Asylum.
Sgt. Alfred Winterbloom, committed: Sept 3rd 1922.
DOB January 23rd 1896. Placement: Ward 9,
Diagnosis: Pervasive Neurasthenia.
N of K: None. Regiment: Manchesters; 2nd Batt.
Died: March 4th 1979. Buried: Potters Field.
Locker cleared out by: P Haines . RMN. Nursing Officer.
Queenswood, April 6th 1979.

His neatly folded clothes—never removed from the suitcase—
showed the taint of time. Two faded collarless shirts, two,
still starched, detachable collars and two brass studs.
One pair of yellowing long johns and three yellowing
vests resting on top of a pair of corduroy trousers.

Below them were four pairs of wool socks
and a never worn pair of dark brown brogues.
Stuck into one of the shoes was a cut-throat razor
with a scrimshawed bone handle and tempered
Sheffield Steel blade, and into the other,
a horse hair shaving brush.

Stuck down the side was a neatly pressed hankie
folded around a sepia picture of a dog, collie
with white paws and a white patch over its left eye.
It held its head slightly to one side as if perplexed
by the occasion.


This poem offers evidence that a fairly simple list can become intensely poignant. I especially admire the emotional deflection in the ending. --Lesley Wheeler

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