Guardian's Poem of the week: Lock Me Away by Clive James
An unsettling meditation on the mental disarrangements of encroaching senility manages a rare balancing of poetry and comedy.
Lock Me Away
In the NHS psychiatric test For classifying the mentally ill You have to spell 'world' backwards. Since I heard this, I can't stop doing it. The first time I tried pronouncing the results I got a sudden flaring picture Of Danny La Rue in short pants With his mouth full of marshmallows. He was giving his initial and surname To a new schoolteacher. Now every time I read the Guardian I find its columns populated By a thousand mumbling drag queens. Why, though, do I never think Of a French film composer (Georges Delerue, pupil of Darius Milhaud, composed the waltz In Hiroshima, Mon Amour) Identifying himself to a policeman After being beaten up? But can I truly say I never think of it After I've just thought of it? Maybe I'm going stun: Dam, dab and dangerous to wonk. You realise this ward you've led me into Spelled backwards is the cloudy draw Of the ghost-riders in the sky? Listen to this palindrome And tell me that it's not my ticket out. Able was I ere I saw Elba. Do you know who I am, Dr La Rue?