Lock Me Away

Clive James

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?

Give me the deb at the end

With an angle on the corridor,

So I can watch this world you speak of

Go by in the right redro, Dr La Rue.